A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Love - Grow - Serve!

A new and exciting vision/discipleship process is emerging in our church. It's called,

Love - Grow - Serve

Over the past several months, our church leadership has been praying and wrestling about the vision that God has in mind for our congregation. We kept coming back to this simple phrase:

Love - Grow - Serve
Actually, this new vision was a no-brainer because we were already emphasizing "Love First" as our church focus. This is the logo that is on our church letterhead, website, church Facebook page, worship bulletin, and t-shirts.

As we thought about our church logo, "Love First," it became readily apparent that this is where any vision for our church needs to begin. We begin with love.

Here is a brief synopsis of our Love - Grow - Serve vision/discipleship process. It's brief because it's very simple and easy to understand. That's what I love about this! It's so easy that anyone can learn it rather quickly.

LOVE (Worship)

Like I said, our church's vision begins with love. As I John tells us, we love because God first loved us! When of the key ways that we receive and respond to God's love made known to us in Jesus Christ is through worship. We worship collectively when we gather to sing praises, hear the scriptures read and proclaimed, pray, and offer ourselves to God. We also worship through our personal daily time with God. Both are important! Love is associated with worship.

This brings us to the second word in the vision, GROW.

GROW (Classes)

Love leads to growth. Love prompts us to learn and discover who God and who God is calling us to be. This involves the exercise of our minds in learning and growing in the basics of the Christian faith.  

To help us grow, we offer Sunday School classes as well as bible studies. We also will begin offering six "Core Courses" designed for long-time church members as well as those who are new to our church. These will be offered on an annual basis on Sunday mornings at the church and on Wednesday evenings at our Crossroads facility as part of our Wednesday Fellowship Dinner program.
  • Bible Basics
  • Christianity 101
  • United Methodism - History & Theology
  • Means of Grace (Including the Sacraments)
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Personal Finances & Stewardship
Our goal is to have a high % of our congregation complete all six of these "core courses" which will provide a strong foundation for our faith journey.

We love through worship. We grow through classes. And we..

SERVE (Small Groups)

Loving and growing naturally lead to serving. When we worship and receive God's love and then grow in our faith, all of this leads to a desire to serve and to live out who God has called us to be. 

In our emerging vision, we believe that God is calling us to form many small groups consisting of 3 to 12 people who will encourage each other to serve in ministry as a small group. For example, a small group may decide to help serve a meal at Foundations Dinners here in Lancaster. Another small group may decide to provide games for children at our annual Easter Eggstravaganza. Still, another small group may decide to serve at our Second Saturday outreach. The sky's the limit! There are many ways to serve and be a blessing in our church and community.

In addition to serving, we are encouraging our small groups to share their faith with each other. John Wesley, the 18th century founder of Methodism liked to ask the question, "How is it with your soul?" To help answer that question, we are inviting small groups to respond to these questions whenever they meet:

1. Share a recent "Closest to Christ" moment. (When did you sense God's presence in a very real way?)
2. Share when you denied Christ. It's good for the soul to confess when we fell short of being who God has called us to be.
3. Share when you were the "heartbeat" of Christ for someone. When were you a blessing to someone?

We will be hearing  a lot more about Love - Grow - Serve. In the meantime, pray for our church as we seek to live into this new and exciting vision/discipleship process.

No comments: