Church, Neighborhood and World
One of the things I love about our mission statement is that we specifically state where we intend to make disciples. It’s modeled after Acts 1:8 where Jesus tells his disciples “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Jerusalem = Church, Judea = Neighborhood, Samaria = World) Making disciples in the church is a challenge, but we have the benefit of already having disciples who are making disciples right here. Making disciples in the world is a challenge, but we have the benefit of missionaries like the Millers in Thailand who we can support with prayers and offerings. Making disciples in our neighborhood is a challenge that I think we struggle with the most. How do we reach out to our neighborhood to make disciples?
Integral, Valued and Transformational
I believe it has to be our mission to be an integral, valued, transformational member of our immediate community. God has placed this congregation in this neighborhood and for as long as we’ve been here, we’ve been a neighborhood church. But we need to ask the hard question: “If Bethel Lutheran Church were to close today, would our immediate community miss us?” Ouch. This hurts because most people wouldn’t miss us all that much. We need to be integral. How can we change that? Well, our immediate neighborhood won’t notice us unless the ministries of our church reflect the needs, challenges and joys of the neighborhood. If we want the neighborhood to value our contribution to the community, we need to love our neighborhood with a love that is transformational. We need to seek God’s will for our neighborhood and be ready to be His hands, feet and voice for our neighbors.
Walk, Block and Talk
Being integral, valued and transformational doesn’t just happen. So we’re going to get serious about knowing and loving our neighborhood. We’re starting by having a Neighborhood Walk on July 10th at 9 am. We hope to gather 30 or more Bethel members and even more volunteers to walk our immediate neighborhood and ask the neighbors about what is best about the neighborhood and what needs work. Then we’ll invite them to a “Walk the Block” Party in our parking lot on July 17th. There we’ll let everyone know what we’ve found from our Neighborhood Walk and enjoy games and food and fun together. In the longer term, we hope to put our a flyer twice a year to the neighbors discussing neighborhood news, issues and items of interest focused upon what we gathered from the neighborhood walk. Hopefully this is the beginning of making Bethel an integral, valued and transformational member of our community!
Faith, Hope and Love
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints– the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Col. 1:3-6
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13