A Timely Reflection
On Life at CLC
On Life at CLC
In 1994, the ELCA awarded outreach grants to 160 different established ministries across the country, for a total of $2.3 million dollars. We might expect that those communities that received such significant resources became vibrant, healthy congregations.
But here’s the thing. After five years, sixteen of these congregations, or 10%, closed. Across this entire sample, attendance declined by 1,950 people. And through this, we learned one key lesson: Money does not grow the church.
In follow up surveys with each of these 160 communities, we found out something else, something much more hopeful. Each shrinking congregation shared one key factor. All lacked a sense that God was actively using them. Conversely, every growing congregation clearly sensed that God was working actively amongst them, that God was alive and working to bring life through the local church community.
As we continue to develop as a congregation, we cannot expect that monetary resources necessarily lead to growth. It is the work of God in our midst, and our active devotion to that work, that leads to the kind of vibrant community we all so deeply desire.
Of course, this makes sense. We’re not here to grow bank accounts. We’re here to grow disciples, to grow the kingdom of God, as the hands of our God at work in the world. With that in mind, pray this week that God will continue to give us a clear sense of divine mission, that we might grow in grace and peace, justice and mercy.
Many of us find evangelism a difficult task. Most would say it is a valuable thing, to share the good news of Jesus. But to actually do that? Well, let’s just say that Lutherans don’t have a sparkling reputation for evangelistic prowess.
I heard an incredible statistic this week. 75% of people who attend a new church for the first time go primarily because of a personal invitation. In other words, ¾ of people won’t show up to a church today unless they’re specifically invited by a regular attender of that congregation.
1st Peter 2 talks about the church as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Our very core identity is to proclaim, to testify, to speak of the goodness of God in the world. To let others know the good work of God in our lives, and to welcome them into spaces and places where they too might experience God’s work for the good.
God calls each of us out of the darkness and into the light. As the mouthpieces of the Gospel, we have a role to play in that, as heralds, as priests, who invite others to experience that kind of light and life in their lives.
So, this week, I hope you’ll take at least one opportunity to tell a new person about the work of God in your life. I hope you’ll invite them to CLC on Palm Sunday and Easter. I hope that you’ll discover the joy of sharing the good news, that the God of this world shares light and life with all creation.
Greetings in Christ!
The Lenten services have been wonderful, both as we experience the worship styles and the worship spaces of our friends in ministry across the NRV. I hope you will join us in the following weeks, especially because two of them (3/8 and 3/22) will be in our sanctuary!
This week’s Lenten service is 7pm Sunday here at CLC. Join us!
We continue to collect items for LWR Health Kits during Lent, including toothbrushes, nail clippers, bath-sized bar soap, combs, and bath towels.
Our next Healing Service is Sunday March 22nd at 7pm, here at CLC, with a dinner preceding at 6pm. This is also our last joint Lenten service of the year.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus turns over tables in the temple out of disgust that the temple became a place concerned more with profit than prophecy, more attuned to making money than making disciples. Jesus displays some righteous anger. And yes, some anger is, indeed, righteous.
Of course, we often feel justified in our anger. Someone cuts us off in traffic when we legally have the right of way. A waitress takes inconceivable amounts of time to bring us a refill. Family and friends never seem to call. And we’re angry about it all.
Yet, our anger often fails to consider the others involved. Who knows whether that driver saw us in the first place? Is this waitress overwhelmed with a full restaurant or trying to make ends meet at home? Have we made any attempts to reach out to our loved ones in order to rekindle the relationship?
Part of the Gospel this Sunday is the truth that there is such a thing is righteous anger. The other part of the Gospel is that God’s anger is righteous. We must be self-aware enough to realize that our anger only becomes righteous when it comes alongside God’s deep desire for justice and mercy.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Andrew Tucker
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