“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
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