Core Training (2): All Saints Identity as a Congregation
All Saints Core Training: Who are We? Our Identity as a Congregation
Memory Verses: John 20:21: “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you’”; Ephesians 5:1–2: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
The Consistory (minister/elders/deacons) addressed our core vision and values in our recent January Meeting (1/16/10). We said: We are to grow in our love for Christ and we are to mature in that love by imitating our Triune God by being a loving community which reaches out in love. This series of sermons is Core Training. We considered our basic Identity in Christ last week. This week we will consider our Identity as a Congregation, and for the next two weeks our Calling in our local community.
In order to mature as a congregation in our love for Christ:
We must remember how we got here. Where we are in Church History. Christ sent His disciples out (John 20:21) and the result is two millennia of gospel transformation. Now we find many conflicting Christian traditions. We reaffirm our commitment to the Lordship of Christ over every area of life which empowers our creation-affirming enjoyment of ordinary life. We see this as a Reformed “catholic” outlook in which we connect to the historic Christian Church, grounded in the Protestant Reformation (doctrinally speaking) which is refined in the covenantal character of our faith and life.
We must rehearse who we are. Where we are by congregational conviction. We must embrace the centrality of covenant renewal worship: the summation of the Bible’s call for His people in Lord’s Day worship. Christ promised His presence in the breaking of the bread on the first day of the week (Luke 24:35-36) and pronounced peace to His disciples (John 20:21). Because of God’s covenant promises we include our children in Word and sacrament ministry. Such worship is the regular means of renewing our covenantal relationship with the Triune God, through Christ and by means of Word and sacrament. From this center we are empowered to serve Christ the Lord in every endeavor of life.
We must reach out locally. Where we must go in contemporary society. We are to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” and so to imitate God and Christ (Eph. 5:1-2). Building on the foundation of this biblical faith, delivered to us through covenantal worship, leads us to build community within the congregation and reach out beyond the congregation. We are to do this by developing an active parish life, reaching out to our local communities and extending the gospel to other places through missions. Therefore, we must develop a richer parish life which serves our neighborhoods and seeks to serve real needs. We also must develop a greater heart for missions (foreign) and the growth of churches in needy areas of the world, such as the former USSR.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more