I appreciate the words in the title because they are verbs. Verbs mean action. These words are also taken from our mission statement: “Bring people to Jesus, make disciples, love one another, and reach out to a hurting world.” These verbs provide the means of fulfilling God’s purpose for Trinity.
Sometimes we might wonder what is our purpose? Our church asked that question and came up with a vision for bringing, making, loving and reaching out. Kirk Hadaway and David Roozen, put it this way, “Churches whose primary concern is making people full of God are also churches whose pews will be full of people.” Admittedly, we can easily be distracted by filling the church with people instead of filling people with God in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Lovett Weems says in his book, Focus: Real Challenges that Face the United Methodist Church, “To glorify God and to share God as revealed in Jesus Christ are at the heart of why any church exists.” He goes on to discuss why churches become institutions of themselves and lose sight of the community surrounding them. “Without the outside, there is no inside. Congregations are not started to care for themselves but to serve others. Without attention to bridging the outside/inside gap, congregations forget their original purpose and turn in upon themselves.”
So, I ask, is our purpose in starting Trinity 122 years ago still the same? Have we changed from our original goal? I’m not so smug as to have all the answers, but I do have questions. What changes are now needed for our changing world? Let me share some truths/assumptions with you according to Weems:
• The only religious preference that has grown since 2001 is “no religion”
• Only 21% of families today have young children as opposed to 50% in 1950
• Married couples comprise less than 50% today
• The majority of young adults are single and do not attend church regularly
• Most people claim 40% of post-modern people attend church but the actual number is far less
• Many churches claim many of their members have “moved away,” but what about all the people who have “moved in” to our neighborhoods. Do we know who our neighbors are?
• Though many folks may “attend” church, many more choose not to become “members.”
• Denominational loyalty matters about as much as automotive, appliance or any other manufacturer loyalty. There is very little loyalty in the present society.
These challenges are not new to the 21st century church. Each generation must discover new ways to bring Jesus into an ever-changing world. The days of “open the doors and they will come” have long been over; however, people still have hope that Jesus is being shared and embraced in the church today.
Faithfulness and diligence alone do not lead to fruitfulness. Focus on the source of our faithfulness is paramount. “We know that God gives the growth, and we continue to be called to do the planting and watering.” I guess I’m just a farmer at heart with lots of questions.