Pastor Nate’s Peace…
The soul of a congregation is the source of it’s calling, character, future and hope!
I have recently returned from my continuing education experience with the Alban Institute. Alban is a resource for congregations providing consulting services and sharing experiences through retreats, seminars, and special events. They have done and continue to be innovative for the success and health of congregations and faith communities. Check them out online at www.Alban.org.
I shared in a class with other congregational leaders from Canada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Illinois, New York and Wisconsin. Upon returning home and processing the experience I was asked, “What one thing did I learn from this educational experience?” Truthfully I learned many ideas and concepts from our leader and fellow colleagues. But the one idea that rings through the week is that we have a message to share. The question is what is the message we share intentionally or unintentionally and how is that helpful our ministry in the days to come?
Hope’s priority is to share the message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen and the eternal benefits that are offered through His saving power of love, forgiveness and grace through our ministry at Hope. I am called as a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to share, encourage, and teach that message. As Christians how do we do that? As a congregation how do we do that? At the same time what other messages do we communicate by our behavior and attitudes as representatives or as children of God?
We communicate many messages to people, but it is important to share the message of a welcoming invitation to all people, to share the love and compassion of Jesus Christ and encourage people to delve deeper into their faith journey. Through the years this message is the same, but our methods and ‘audience’ is changing. Sometimes our message is not always as welcoming or inviting as we intend it to be. Many church members speak longingly of a bygone era, using the language of historian Lewis Namier, who said we tend to “remember the future.” We project forward our assumptions, occasionally our hopes, and more often than not, our fears, without honoring our own inability to know what the future will bring. This projection remembers a time from our past that is not the reality of our future. The adaptability of our church and members is crucial for the present and future ministry of Hope.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know we have a timeless message of the Good New of Jesus Christ. It is not shared the same way as when I was a child, but sharing in these changing times presents us new ways to reframe and welcome more people into the life and light of Jesus’ resurrection power. As we prepare for the coming season of Lent may we challenged to share this message.