A recent ELCA study showed that communities growing in mission and ministry share four characteristics. We’ve explore three of these – a purpose, a willingness to change, and a depth of relationship – over the past few weeks. The fourth aspect is shared leadership amongst pastors and the congregation.
No one should lead alone. After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Paul, Peter, and the rest of the Apostles’ shared leadership as they began to evangelize the known world. At various times, Paul shared ministry with Barnabas and Timothy. Jesus shared authority with his disciples not only to proclaim the good news but to heal in his name. Effective leadership comes from the common effort of a committed, faithful group.
For us a church, this means that we must rely on one another for the development and growth of our church’s mission and vision. None of us can do it alone. I surely can’t, not by myself. But together? As we gather in the name of Jesus, we know that the Holy Spirit joins us as well. We know that, in our joint prayer and discernment, God speaks to us through scripture, through our community’s needs, and through one another as we share our passions and desires.
Do you have a passion? Something you’d like to see happen? Perhaps God is calling you to lead alongside your sisters and brothers, whether as a ministry coordinator or a council representative. Let’s start those conversations with one another and explore the good future God’s got in store for us.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself.”
How do you think this verse from Matthew 22 relates to missional redevelopment, to the idea of discovering and growing in our new identity? In the ELCA study that saw trends amongst growing missional congregations, one key component was relational development and commitment. Congregations that grow in identity and ministry all exhibit a relational connection to God, to the church, and to the community.
Faithful growth in the Gospel means that we must remain deeply rooted in relationship with the one who brings that good news. Our God continues to have a mission for the church, so part of what we must continue to seek is growth in that relationship with Jesus. This happens through prayer, the scripture, and through the discernment of God’s work in the world.
But we also must come to know the others in the church, both locally and abroad, who connect with God and seek to manifest God’s mission. We can’t perform this mission alone. We need the rest of the body of Christ to truly be the church for the sake of the world.
Even with these two relationships, though, we can’t fully enact God’s mission, because we also must come to know the community to which God sends us. We must get to know the people in our neighborhood, the businesses and the homes. We must not only hear the celebrations and the sufferings of the mission field, but come to see them as our own joys and sorrows. We must develop impactful, compassionate relationships with God, with the church, and with our community in order to grow in our identity and witness as a missional congregation.
This week, then, I encourage you to work on those relationships. Set aside some extra time to pray or read scripture and get closer to God. Have a conversation that you’ve been waiting on with someone from the church or denomination. Meet someone that you’ve never met before, or reengage with someone you’ve lost touch with in our community. Begin to develop those relationships that will help to give life to our church, and help our church give life to our community. This sounds a whole lot like learning to love God and love our neighbors, doesn’t it?
Grace and peace,
Pastor Andrew Tucker
Many thanks to all those who stepped up to help lead worship while Pastor Tucker was away!
Across the Spectrum is this Sunday at 3pm in the Fellowship Hall.
At Sunday school discipleship groups, we will focus on living life in the Resurrection, using a film series and exploring the upcoming lectionary texts.
Pastor Tucker is attending Virginia Tech’s Autism Outreach Conference on Friday.
As we seek to grow in mission and ministry here in Radford, four key characteristics arise as central to all successful redevelopment congregations. Last week’s devotional explored the first, which is shared purpose. Along with that shared purpose, congregations that become vibrant communities of renewal also exhibit a willingness to change as they follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
Ecclesiastes 3 begins this way: "There's a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens." This chapter commonly appears at weddings and funerals in our culture, in part due to its honesty about the changes inherent to life. No one stays the same for their entire lives, nor should they. We’re now embracing the change of winter into spring, along with the warmth of the air and the beauty of the blossoms. Change comes as a requisite part of life.
So, too, we must embrace change in the life of the church, but purposeful change. Change led by the Holy Spirit. Churches alive in the Gospel, churches that grow in ministry, don’t just change because they’re bored. Change comes because God compelled the community that a new mission field required the change. That’s the kind of change we’re beginning to see here with our new ministries at Radford University and to persons with special needs here in the NRV. That’s the kind of change we see in the installation of a lift and the welcoming of chairs and new technology in our sanctuary.
To embrace new life, we must continue to embrace that change, to follow the work of the Holy Spirit, to live in the season to which we’ve been called, to live in our time under the heavens.
Devotional & News
Here's where you'll find weekly updates and devotional material from within our community.