“To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Who are we as a congregation? This seemingly simple question is perhaps the most important question we need to be asking ourselves at St. John’s. Who are we? Simply put, how we answer this question determines everything else we do—how we design our ministry, how we make decisions, how we spend our money, how we live and serve together in this place.
As you know, the leadership of our congregation continues to work hard to discern how best to move forward with our building renovation. Earlier this month, the Leadership Board, Property Ministry Team, Vision Team Leaders, and ministry staff spent an entire day together in conversation and prayer around this very topic. As we did, we returned to these two most basic questions— Who are we?, and, How does who we are determine what we do? Over the course of the next several weeks, I am going to use these weekly Pastor’s Messages to share our answers.
First and foremost, St. John’s Lutheran Church is a congregation deeply rooted and grounded in our mission to be and make disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace.
Our mission as a congregation begins with being disciples of Christ. Being disciples of Christ is who we are. Being disciples of Christ defines and determines everything we do as the church. So, how do we be disciples of Christ?
Nearly 20 years ago now, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) of which we are a member congregation identified 7 practices that are central to being disciples of Christ. These 7 practices of discipleship are as relevant now as they were then.
Disciples WORSHIP. Discipleship to Christ begins with weekly worship as we gather around Word and Sacrament in the community of faith.
Disciples STUDY. Discipleship to Christ means daily grounding our life in the reading and study of God’s Word, a Word that both calls us to repentance and comforts us with the promise of forgiveness. • Disciples PRAY. Discipleship to Christ calls us to daily prayer, praying for ourselves, for others, for the church, and for the world.
Disciples ENCOURAGE. Discipleship to Christ engages us in relationship with others as we care for those both inside and outside the church.
Disciples SERVE. Discipleship to Christ sends us into the world to serve others, especially those who are in need.
Disciples GIVE. Discipleship to Christ opens our lives to generosity as we freely give our time, talents, and treasure in thankfulness and praise.
Disciples INVITE. Discipleship to Christ invites and welcomes others as we share Christian hospitality through both our words and our actions.
Who are we here at St. John’s? We are a congregation that expects each and every one of our disciples to be deeply engaged in each of these seven faith practices. We are a congregation that worships, studies, prays, encourages, serves, gives, and invites. These seven practices of discipleship define who we are and what we do. So what do these seven practices of discipleship have to do with our building renovation? The short answer is EVERYTHING! How does our current building help us in the living out of these seven practices? How does our current building hinder us in the living out of these seven practices?
Being disciples of Christ. It’s who we are and it determines what we do.
Called by God’s GRACE+