Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mission Moment:  Cultural Context

People have said that our culture is more like the book of Acts than any moment in recent history.   I am not sure about that because in the book of Acts, Christianity was an unknown religion.   The church had to go out into the world to spread the Gospel.  They had no other choice.  In our culture, people have an idea of what Christianity means, good or bad.   There are lots of assumptions such as the church only wants money to support itself or that the church is only for good people.  

Lutherans have a great theology bound by two words, Christ and Grace.  Christ’s does the work, and Grace we receive as a gift.   At issue is that people do not understand or fail to see how much God loves them.  It is hard to understand Grace in a world measured by what you do, right or wrong.  Maricopa Lutheran has done a great job of attracting Lutherans that have moved into the area.   We must celebrate and continue to embrace our Lutheran church people.  At the same time, can we imagine being a place that is so exciting and intriguing that non-Lutherans will come and check us out?

People are less concerned these days about denominations and more concerned about being fed by God’s word and being transformed.   What can we do to connect all people in our community?   What would you like to see happen that would help make Maricopa Lutheran stand out even more?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Discipleship Formation
Jesus tells us to make disciples of all nations.   A disciple follows and does what Jesus does.   A disciple also helps to create other disciples.   We can readily list the “problems” of the church usually reflected in the “not enoughs.”  We don’t have enough people, money or whatever.   The answer is a faith issue.  Are we willing to be disciples?  Are we willing to help create new disciples?  Can we think about always growing, learning helping to make a difference in this world?
We have our five principles for MLC.  We have a mission statement.  How do we grow people?   I recognize that the Holy Spirit has a place in all of this.   People are at different levels of their faith and their commitment to their Lord and their church.   I want to develop a plan for Maricopa Lutheran.   Some have used classes on healthy faith practices.  That certainly could be done.   I think mentoring is part of the process.  Jesus spent 3 years with his disciples.   If we were to have a plan for Maricopa Lutheran Church what would that plan look like?   What should be included?    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Equipped for Evangelism and Generosity

I remember a conversation when deciding on our denomination’s new name.  People wanted the word Evangelical in the name so that people would be reminded that we are called to reach out beyond our walls.   Lutheran churches were not started in America to reach new people and make them Christians.  They were started so that all the Lutherans from Europe would have a good Lutheran church to attend.  For the longest time our main method of Evangelism was simply to have lots of children and raise them Lutheran.  That strategy no longer works.   Evangelism is quite simple.   Start with our friends and as the relationship goes, invite them to church.  If they have a church home celebrate with them.   What happens over time is that we stop inviting people.   So to be an inviting church means that the church people invite others to join.   If being a Lutheran Christian is the best thing in the world, don’t we want others to enjoy and embrace the grace of Jesus Christ?
Generosity doesn’t just happen by itself.  Generosity grows out of an understanding that we are all blessed by God.  It grows out of a commitment to not only God but the mission of God in the world.   Most of us hold onto our stuff, our time, and often give out of our surplus.   Yet to be a generous person will require us to take a leap and trust that God will honor our generosity.  Yes, it is better to give than to receive.  You can begin with small steps and decide to up your giving to God’s work in the world.  This might be time or money but whatever the case, do it joyfully.  You will not be disappointed.

Questions:  Have you ever invited someone to church, if not, why not?  What was that experience like?
Why do you give and what happens to you and others when you do?