“God has called us to be a growing, caring group of believers in Jesus Christ who encourage and strengthen one another through Word and Sacrament as we reach out into our community and world with the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to bring all people into His body, the church, as responsible members.”
So, "What does this mean?" Here's a commentary on our mission statement:
We have an awareness of divine purpose: God has called us ... By the gracious call of God in the Gospel, you and I are numbered among the people of God. In Christ, He chose us to be His own. He redeemed us from the curse of sin and reconciled us to Himself through the blood of Jesus shed at Calvary. The Holy Spirit through the word and sacraments has worked faith in our hearts to trust in our gracious God and live our lives for Him here in time and into eternity.
… to be a growing, caring group of believers in Jesus Christ … God’s love in Christ calls for a human response from us. God’s grace empowers us so that the love of God flows through us in attitudes, words, and actions that reflect and reveal His love. Jesus told his disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
... who help and strengthen one another through Word and Sacrament ... God has provided us with the tools for ministry-—His Word (the Holy Scriptures), Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. No one can be a Christian or have true spirituality apart from these means through which the Holy Spirit creates faith and nurtures the life of a child of God. Satan offers many counterfeits to true faith and spirituality that deceive many. We depend on what God has promised and let His Word provide the content and power of our faith. Our corporate worship, centered in Word and Sacrament ministry, is central to the Christian faith. While faith is personal -- no one can believe for another -- faith is never private. God’s will is that we are united to one another as active members of the body of Christ. We are responsible towards one another because the love of Christ compels us.
... as we reach out into our community and world with the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ … God’s grace is not for keeping to ourselves; it is for sharing with others that they too can experience life with God. We have good news to share. The mission of the church is not “to give them hell” but “to give them heaven” -- God’s free gift through faith in Jesus Christ. The Great Commission to make disciples is not so much a command from Christ as it is a privilege to live out our baptism and share with others the grace, love, forgiveness, joy, and peace that we have received in Christ. Locally, we do this through personal witnessing in word and actions, inviting people to “come and see”. Worldwide, we do it through our commitment to missions with finances, prayers, and encouraging young people to consider a church work vocation (pastor, teacher, director of Christian Education or Outreach, etc.).
… to bring all people into His body, the church, as responsible members ... This refers to others and ourselves. We are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and be equipped to minister more effectively for our Savior and His church. This is the goal of our Christian education and stewardship programs. Both call for lifelong commitment to growing, maturing, and developing as disciples (learners and followers of Jesus Christ who in turn disciple others).
*** YOU are invited to join in the mission! ***