Last Sunday in my sermon I spoke about the heart.
It is through the heart, where by faith, we believe that God comes and speaks to us.
I spoke about how it is the heart from where we express our love and our gratitude to God.
God moves us so that we might have a generous heart for giving.
Today for my message I would like to speak to the stewardship of our mission.
The mission of our church states that we are to:
Proclaim the message of Jesus Christ
Reach out with this message to people of all backgrounds and cultures
And Create a community of Christian support, love, and forgiveness.
This is the mission of this congregation.
God is at work in the world.
God is at work in this place.
We join God in this good work of mission through this mission statement.
Let’s take the first statement of our mission statement.
In the hymn Great is the Lord that we sang recently in worship, we sing these words:
Great is the Lord, he is holy and just, by his power we trust in his love.
Great is the Lord, he is faithful and true, by his mercy he proves he is love.
Great is the Lord, and worthy of glory. Great is the Lord, and worthy of praise.
Great is the Lord, now lift up your voice, now lift up your voice: Great is the Lord!
A wonderful hymn of praise!
God is holy.
God is just.
God is faithful.
God is true.
God is love.
Because of the greatness and the goodness of God we lift up our voices in praise to God.
The word praise means to express heartfelt feelings towards God.
To praise God is to give glory to the one who created us and redeemed us.
Our second statement in our mission statement is proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.
We are to pray for and to look for opportunities to share our faith and to invite others to this house of worship.
One thing that people sometimes tell me is that they don’t have anyone to share their faith with.
And to that I say be more persistent.
Look for those opportunities to share your faith.
Pray that God would give to you an encounter where you might share your faith.
Also, maybe the person you are sharing your faith with doesn’t have a church and you could invite that person to come here for worship.
This is one area that I really encourage you to pray about.
Pray that God would give you the work to share your faith with someone.
And a warning here… you might share your faith with someone and they might not be happy that you did that.
This happened to me recently.
I was sharing my faith with someone who does not believe in God and the person got very upset with me.
So if this happens simply say a silent prayer for that person and then look for another encounter.
One thing that I have found to be true is that when it comes to sharing your faith -if one door closes another always opens.
Someone may not respond to the faith you that are sharing but then God opens the heart of a different person that you are speaking faith to and that person responds to the Gospel.
Our third statement is: Reach Out with this message to people of all backgrounds and cultures.
In the coming year the church council is going to be praying, reflecting, and working on this particular statement.
How can we better do the work of reaching out?
It is not as if we are not doing this for we surely are doing this… but even still we want to do an even more effective job in reaching out.
First, in thinking about this statement I want to highlight some ministries that we are already doing that fulfills this statement.
We reach out to the community with our Vacation Bible School ministry.
We are one of the few churches left that still offer a week of very important ministry for children in our community.
We reach out to the community through our donations to our local food pantry.
We reach out to the community by providing this nice space free of charge for the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
We reach out to the community by making visits to and by Christmas caroling at the local nursing homes.
We reach out to the community by providing school bags to children in need at our school.
We reach out to the community by participating in CROP Walk and God’s Work. Our Hands Sunday.
We reach out ecumenically by participating in shared worship services and ministries with our brothers and sisters within our churches.
We reach out to the wider church with our tithing to the Synod, to ELCA World Hunger, and to our San Jose mission congregation.
I could go on but suffice it to say that we are on track with this mission statement.
The question we now have is how can we reach out even more?
That is the question that the church council will be exploring this coming year.
Would you like to join us on church council and help us in discerning this particular mission statement?
If you feel called by the Spirit than let me or another council member know for we are in need of two new council members for next year.
Please pray that the church council might discern God’s will in how we are to reach out as the people of God.
And lastly, we are to create a community of Christian support, love, and forgiveness.
I have said this before… that I have a heart for small churches.
It is not easy being a part of a small church in today’s culture where church and God is being valued less and less each and every year.
But I have a heart for small churches and I know that you do to.
I grew up in small churches.
My father always served small churches and as a retired pastor he is still serving a small church about half the size of this congregation.
Once as a child I asked him why he always chooses to serve at small churches.
And I will never forget what he told me.
He said, “Tom, I am at small churches because in a small church you get to know the people.’
‘The people are what make up a church and I want to know them and to love them and I can’t do that in a large church.”
This is not to bring down large churches it is only to point out that this statement of creating community is best done in a smaller setting.
Jesus spoke to large crowds but he only had twelve disciples.
He did not have 500 disciples he had twelve.
I think that is significant.
In order to create community of support, love, and forgiveness we need to be able to know the people we are worshiping with and serving with.
How might we be the people we are called to be and to join God in the work of building up this particular community of faith here in Williams Bay?
In working on this statement of our mission statement it will take some hard work.
I feel myself sweating and wanting to take a nap just thinking about it.
But this is work that is worth working at.
This is the kind of work that the Spirit is calling us to.
Like Jacob can we wrestle with the Lord in order to discover the Lord’s ways here in this place at this time?
Can we be like the woman in the parable who did not give up in requesting what she needed?
Together let’s be good stewards of this great mission that God has entrusted us with!
It is our mission which will sustain this congregation into the future and beyond.
The church that I was a member of while in seminary, West Koshkonong Lutheran Church, just celebrated last Sunday their 175th anniversary.
Think about that for a moment.
175 years of being the church.
How did they do that all of these years?
By staying connected to their purpose and their mission.
I have no doubt that we too might one day celebrate 175 years of mission and ministry.
I might not be here to celebrate that milestone anniversary of 175 years.
So you will have to celebrate it for me.
But it can happen that day can come to pass through faith, prayer, and trust in the One who sends us out in mission.