Our congregation has three goals, the first is Discipleship - Nurturing:
Jesus told his followers, "Go and make disciples...," not just recruit new members for some new religious organization later to be called "Christian" or "Lutheran".
A disciple literally means "student" or "trainee" or "follower"; and as time progresses, a disciple grows to value more and more the meaning of being a disciple of Jesus.
A disciple, first of all, recieves what the "master" offers. At the core what we recieve is the Word of God and the Sacraments - Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the means by which we are fed what we need to grow and to be sustained in life, to be freed from guilt and from the fear of death.
The Word of God, both His will for His creatures (us) and His promises through Jesus for us, is clearly and carefully presented in our study and worship. This is the highlight of the week for us, when we "come into His presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise".
We all have things we wonder about, issues unsettled. So we also can gather around God's Word in classes for children and adults each Sunday, before worship, allowing time for any and all questions, clarifications, applications, discussions and discovery.
WHAT COMES IN: God's Word! And nurture is the reason we come in.
So, our first goal is to grow in love, joy and peace, through the grace and mercy of God, nurtured as disciples through His Word.
The second goal is Fellowship - Facilitating:
Fellowship has, at times, been understood as a rather nice, but optional time to visit; a take-it-or-leave-it social hour. Our current and common usage of the word has lost much of its original richness and power.
The original word in the Bible for fellowship is "koinonia". It is a very "elastic" word. It "stretches" to every aspect of our life together.
- It is translated as "communion". It refers to a deep, rich, personal relationship we share with Jesus in His presence in the Lord's Supper.
- It refers to a deep and abiding companionship with God in life's day-to-day journey.
- It refers to our mutual support, love and encouragement for each other (of course this could include coffee and refreshment), becoming friends in the process.
- It refers to a unity of faith and purpose.
- It is even translated as "making a contribution", as offerings to relieve poverty and need.
Fellowship is a word about people and their faith, their friendships, their relationships and their actions - together. It is a great antidote for the "lonely". It means "to belong".
So, our second goal is to share deep and abiding friendships, faith and purpose, all marked by love, joy and peace.
The third goal is Stewardship - Serving:
Stewardship assumes the dignity of every human life. It's scope encompasses all of creation. It calls every person to divine assignment. Let's explain:
In the Bible the word "steward" refers to "a manager of an estate". The steward is not the owner of the estate, nor is he/she the lowest servant on the lowest rung on the workforce. The steward has been entrusted with the owner's property or assets, with the assignment to see to it that the "estate" is managed well and its purposes protected. The steward has the freedom (with instructions found in the Bible, the "owner's manual") to use his/her skills, brains and ingenuity to manage all the assets provided to us and for us by our God.
The Christian sees this world as God's property, God's house, and everyone on this property has an assignment to manage what they touch. We all are stewards of 100% of our assets, our skills, our talents, our resources (personal and global), our wealth and our lives. Whether workers or bosses or parents or children or citizens or students or neighbors or retirees, everyone is on assignment. This is why everyone has divine dignity and divine purpose.
Christians, disciples of Jesus, also are stewards of His Word. He has tasked us to share His ways and promises with everyone and anyone. And this we really want to do with you and yours (our neighbors).
So, our third goal is to genuinely serve our neighbors, our community and our world as Jesus modeled for us.