Some years ago, while our family was on vacation, we attended a local congregation for worship. As we arrived we were given bulletins by the greeters, who were friendly but not extremely helpful, and typical of pastors I began to look at everything around me, the space, the people, the layout, and what this church said about itself in the different pieces of material in the pew and in the bulletin. Soon I found their mission statement: “Committed to an informed membership.”
An “informed membership?” I was disappointed at this congregation and I was only a visitor. Although I am sure that they meant well it spoke volumes that their “mission” had nothing to do with the mission of Jesus. I wonder how they arrived at seeing themselves in this way? What did they mean by it? How did they perceive this way of being as one that would guide them into kingdom work?
As I begin my work at Squyres UMC I ask myself: what is our mission? and how do we accomplish it? If our mission is centered on Christ, driven by God’s Spirit, and rooted in table fellowship, what does our living in this way look like? Our ministries? Our ways of conversation and administration?
All of these are important questions. They are important because society needs the church to be the church, the gathering of those transformed by God’s Spirit into agents of God’s reconciling love. That is our mission, our calling, and our identity.
We could be committed to an “informed membership” or to any other cause, but that does not make us the church. What makes us the church is our commitment to live the way of Jesus in the world, empowered by the Spirit, sealed by the waters of baptism, and constantly sanctified by table fellowship.
In the next few weeks I will continue writing on the church. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to write them. My prayer is that God may guide us as we seek to be the church, the people of God, in our community.