"The purpose of
the Presbytery of Lake Michigan is
to challenge, encourage, and equip
worshiping communities of faith
to make disciples of Jesus Christ
with the gifts God gives them."
Toward Presbytery's purpose of equipping for making disciples of Jesus Christ, consider this quote from Rick Rouse and Craig Van Gelder's book: "A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation: Embarking on a Journey of Transformation," Augsburg Fortress (c) 2008, pp. 60-61)
"The missional congregation finds it's purpose grounded in God's mission--living for the sake of the world as it participates in God's redemptive ministry of reconciliation for all creation. Within this identity people are invited to make life-changing commitments as they discover the grace of God in becoming modern-day disciples of Jesus Christ. The missional congregation understands baptism as a call to vocational service of God and others, an ordination into ministry in daily life. The missional congregation is serious about cultivating committed disciples for Jesus instead of just adding more members to the institutional church. Congregations that focus on discipleship are:
- not as concerned about numbers; and more concerned with how well people are living their faith and sharing the gospel.
- not as concerned about how well we care for members; and more concerned with how we serve needs in the world around us.
- not as concerned about maintaining institution (structure); and more concerned with empowering people for ministry.
- not as concerned about preserving facilities (ownership); and more concerned with offering them as a gift to our community.
Those of you who are learning polarity thinking will recognize this as either/thinking. This is a not a problem to be solve, but a polarity (Inreach and Outreach) to be managed. This is a both/and. The unhealthy cycle many of us have been stuck in, is a laser inward focus on caring for self, the needs of our members, our buildings, our institution. As our numbers diminish and urgency strikes, our motivation is to grow large enough to make us feel good again about our congregation, our presbytery, our denomination. Our sense of urgency may be self serving, real and appropriate, but our motivation which will sustain our efforts must be something more! That something more, I believe, comes from our core identity as disciples of Jesus Christ, baptized to new life in Christ and called make disciples. Jesus in his person, brought near the realm of God, the kingdom of heaven, incarnating, making real and present the love of God to those he encountered. As a disciple of Jesus, I understand my calling is to do likewise. Our collective acts of loving kindness, mercy, justice likewise brings God's kingdom near. Not perfectly, but through God's grace, transformative. This is who we are, disciples of Jesus. Any anxiety of our identity dies in our baptism, and secured in our rising with Christ. Our Lenten Journey ends in Easter Celebration: Resurrection.