Tuesday, January 24, 2012


   Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution commands the president of the United States to annually come before Congress to present the state of the union, or what is called SOTU. Our founding fathers knew, like we do, the immeasurable value of taking time out to reflect where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going.
   A year ago I introduced three core values that I believe remain at the center of where God desires us to focus: personal discipleship, excellence, and sustainability. They remain central to the modern realities of living into Christ's great commission to the church. Eugene Peterson interprets it this way: 
"Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (Matthew 28). 
We must first be those who are being trained and made into disciples ourselves. We cannot lead people to a place we have not been or will not go ourselves. Secondly, we must be stewards of the resources and blessings God has given us, which means we must do church in a sustainable way. No longer can we take on all things; we must take on the right things for us and allow someone else to do the others. Finally, we must do all ministry with excellence, because the globalization of the world has surely elevated everyone's expectations about quality.
   As for specific areas within our church, I will touch briefly on a number that merit our attention:  

  • Ministry with Families of all sizes - it is a concept called Orange, and we asking everyone to begin to Think Orange. It starts next Wednesday, February 1 after supper.
  • Sunday School - participation has increased, thanks to the consolidation of our morning worship services, and to the opportunity to start two new classes. It is in this hour that people are able to learn and witness what being a disciple of Jesus looks like in the world. This Sunday's gathering of our SS teachers and leaders intends to further inspire all of us to pursue excellence in this critical ministry.
  • Missions - our new emphasis on involving every person in serving with our hands in a variety of ways is already showing results. Let us remember, we gather to grow in order that we go to serve. The church fails when it remains here without going out there.
  • Finances - the way our people have committed to stewardship is moving us back toward sure financial footing. 2011 saw great generosity, as we paid our Conference apportionments, paid our bills, and even paid back some to ourselves. We are improving, but each of us must continue to be faithful.
   The state of the church is good, not yet great, and in constant need of grace. But we take comfort in knowing, best of all, God is with us. Grace and Peace, Scott

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