Beyond the Pulpit

September 2017

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

At a conference of pastors I got to hear a somewhat venerated churchman speak about his views of the church.  We were able to have some very frank conversations about theology, ecclesiology, Christology, and all the ills we each saw damaging the church.

Being a gathering of pastors, after discussing our personal challenges we eventually turned to sharing what struggles we were facing in our own congregations.  True to form, as I have come accustomed, I struggled to find something to say.  In light of the struggles faced by other pastors, Santa Fe’s struggles made me feel like I was bragging.  Which is a tribute to you all, thank you.

The truth be told, one of the great differences between congregations were the varying degrees of life in each church.  And of course, the recognition that “you can’t steer a parked car.”  We may not be perfect, but at least we are moving.

But following day our speaker picked up where the conversation had ended and turned to the subject of healthy congregations.  He outlined what he believed to be four marks of a healthy congregation.  I will offer them to you with my understanding of his words and I will let you consider just how healthy is Santa Fe?  I do look forward to hearing your assessment.  Here are the four marks:

1 – Worship.  By worship, is there a visible and deliberate atmosphere of lifting up and praising the sovereignty God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ when the church gathers?  Are we truly thankful for what God has done and actively expressing that thanksgiving?

2 – Discipleship.  Are we actively engaged in learning how to follow Jesus Christ?  Do we spend time in pray and study so that we may learn to live and love like Jesus Christ?

3 – Fellowship.  Is what is happening in each other’s lives really important to us?  Do we spend time living as a people engaged in care and hospitality toward one another?

4 – Stewardship.  Broadly speaking, do we utilize our time, talent, and treasure in actions of out-reach and mission to our community and the world in the name of Jesus Christ?

What do you say?  How healthy are we as a congregation?  And if I am correct, that Santa Fe is a church on the move, in what directions do we need to steer, in order to better fulfill the four marks of a healthy congregation.  As we move forward toward the fulfillment of Vision 2020, let us each ask how we might steer our own lives, and in turn, help the congregation move toward becoming a healthier congregation.

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