Beyond the Pulpit

September 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been a brief but very busy summer; mission trips, youth conferences, funerals, meetings with architects, construction at home, sending the youngest off to college, … thank you for your patience.  Now it is time to get back to our other work.

It has been a year since we launched Vision 2020.  We hit our immediate financial goals last year.  We appear to be moving in the right direction toward the financial base that will make Vision 2020 a reality.  We have met with an architect.  We have a search committee in place and at work filling our staffing needs.

Now it is time to move on the goal of membership growth.  There are two issues I believe need to be addressed, how to deepen the faith and commitment of the current congregation and how do we bring in new members to grow the size of our congregation.  These are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they are inseparable; to grow in either way we need both.

Jesus’ call to the Church in the Great Commission of Matthew 28 was to “Go and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  Too often we have viewed this as a call to make “church members” and assuming they would some how pick up the commandments on their own, or to simply follow our “rules” without question.

The call, I remind you, was to make “disciples,” commonly meaning, “one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.” Or, “an active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.”  It is derived from the Latin word for “pupil” or “learner.”  In our context, “an active learner who embraces and assists in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Therefore, in order to bring new people into the life of our church, and make disciples of them, we need to be disciples who are learning and spreading the Gospel to others.

Yes, it seems to be a difficult task, but it need not be so.  It sounds a little uncomfortable, perhaps even scary, but do not forget the pledge of Jesus to us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  And truthfully, it is not as difficult or discomforting as one might think.

Working toward this goal, I ask you to consider challenging yourself in one or more of the following ways:

– spend more time during the week reading Scripture and praying,
– make a greater effort to attend Sunday school,
– invite a friend to come with you to worship, attend Sunday school, in Bible Study or prayer,
– come to the church retreat we are planning for September 21-22 at St. Francis of the Woods, just east of Guthrie in Coyle.  During the retreat we will explore how we might, each one of us,       become better disciples of Jesus Christ.  (more details will come soon),
– consider joining me in a 6-8 week study of the book, Disciple Shift.
– help me create a dedicated youth ministry team that will pray together, study together, and join me in leading the youth ministry of this church.

If you have any questions about any of these, please ask me.   If you are interested in participating in the retreat or the book study, contact me soon, and we will discuss it.

If the idea of joining the youth ministry team interests you, let’s get together and discuss your gifts and sense of calling to this kind of ministry, it is a special ministry that is not for everyone.  Youth and their leaders need disciplining too.Santa Fe is a healthy church, it is a strong church, it is a loving church, it is a faithful church, but we could, and perhaps should, be so much more so.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,