The Strategic Planning Team is busy processing the data they collected from our “Day of Discovery” in April, working toward reexamining of our mission statement and formulating some concrete goals for us.
Meanwhile, I’m still coming down from the high of our Pentecost weekend – baptisms and baptism renewals, confirmations, an amazing response to fundraising goal for the solar power system.
I suppose it is the combination of the Strategic Planning Team’s work and the confirmations that has me thinking about the future of the church. And I suppose there are lots of ways to express why the church exists – not just our congregation, but the church universal. Today, if you were to ask me what the purpose of the universal church is, I’d answer, “The church exists to equip people to live as disciples of Jesus.”
In his book, Generations Together, John Roberto reaffirms a traditional, but very rich notion that we are doing our best at equipping people to live as Disciples of Jesus when they are informed, formed, and transformed as persons. This happens at all stages of life – child, youth, and adult. It happens through the growing of a robust, vital, and life-giving Christian faith that is holistic: a way of the head, the heart, and the hands.
Roberto goes on to say, “While expressed in many different ways, faith formation [the equipping of disciples] seeks to help people:
- Grow in their relationship with God for the whole of life
- Live as disciples of Jesus at home, at work, in the community, and in the world
- Develop an understanding of the Bible and their faith tradition
- Deepen their spiritual life and practices
- Engage in service and mission to the world
- Participate in the life and ministries of their faith community”
One of the things I like about our progressive theology is that we include sources outside Christian theology for this work. For instance, we welcome the insights of science to the informing, forming, and transforming of disciples. A few days before Pentecost, we posted this picture on our Facebook page. The quote says, “Christianity and science are opposed … but only in the same sense as that which my thumb and forefinger are opposed – and between them, I can grasp everything” (Sir William Bragg).
Likewise, we welcome personal experience as a source understanding. That is one reason that listening to each other’s stories is so important.
On Sunday, June 5, we will be celebrating formation. We will celebrate the milestone of a high school graduate and the ways the knowledge learned in our public schools helps to inform, form, and transform disciples. And we will celebrate the teachers of our children’s and adult Sunday School classes and their work of informing, forming, and transforming disciples.
And let us all stay faithful to the work of our spiritual journeys. Let us stay immersed in the particular practices and particular ways of life that identify us as followers of Jesus.