No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” (Ephesians 4:14-16, The Message)
At its meeting on December 9, the session of First Presbyterian Church moved to accept the mission statement that had been proposed by a group of church leaders—“Accepting, Caring, Growing, Serving… through God’s Grace.” You will begin to see this statement on our outdoor sign, our bulletins and The Window, and hear it in worship.
So it might be helpful to think about what it really means.
Last month I explored the first word, Accepting. That was the easiest word for the team to choose. The toughest word was probably Growing. There were some who felt it was misleading because our numbers are not growing. In fact, since 2005 our membership has dropped from 235 to 173.
Those who felt strongly about putting the word Growing in our mission statement argued that its primary meaning was about growing in our faith. Our mission is to help our members broaden and deepen their relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Our mission is to help us “know the whole truth and tell it in love.” Our church transforms us. Our church equips us to transform our community.
People who are fully alive and growing in their faith—wondering, exploring, evolving, sharing, putting into practice—these are what makes a living, growing church.
Being true to our mission statement will require expanding what we offer in terms of faith-forming opportunities for children and adults. The “Living Your Strengths” class in January… our Lenten Wednesday discussion group in February and March… the spiritual town hall meeting coming up on January 31… regular attendance by all our children at Sunday school… these all are ways we grow. So is whole-hearted participation in worship, caring ministries, mission outreach and fellowship.
Our bodies continue to grow—new cells replacing old ones—long after adolescence. Our hearts and minds continue to grow, too. Ask yourself, “How has my faith changed and grown since I was a Confirmation student?” Remember, we take our lead from Christ, who nourishes us to grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Growing with you,