From the Pastor’s Heart

Many folks express a common concern when it comes to church worship attendance. “How can we grow in number?” “What can we do to attract new members?” These are two frequently asked questions. They are very good questions, but it seems that so often we struggle with the answers. Could it be our focus is misplaced? Or Perhaps our definition of evangelism needs clarification. It could be our hopes and expectations are what need to be re-aligned rather than our focus on membership rolls.

It goes without saying that as we welcome visitors among us on Sunday morning, our worship is enhanced and we are glad they are here. Wouldn’t it be great if we saw several new faces among us each week? In that light, perhaps it’s time we roll up our sleeves and get back to the basics. After all, it’s not just that we want more people to worship with us. Rather, we have a wonderful gift that we are called to share; the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Before we can grow the church, we must first learn to grow as disciples. We must learn that living within our baptismal covenant with God means loving God with all our heart, and loving one another as we are loved. We need to come to the house of the Lord for worship, prayer and fellowship. Living together in Christ means enjoying the gifts we all bring to those gathered in this place and beyond. It means sharing our mutual joys and celebrations, grieving together in our losses, and experiencing life together. God calls his people to lives of faith, love and service towards their neighbors. These sound simple, but the reality is that most congregations struggle with the aspects of discipleship. Certainly, we have room for spiritual growth.

The life we present to the world makes a difference. All too often, the un-churched look upon Christians and see no appreciable difference in the way they live their lives. Too many Christians continue to live according to a worldly standard. Jesus, however, calls his disciples to live for God alone, loving and serving as Christ loved and served. The world is filled with people searching for hope, peace and love in their lives. Such hope is made sure and certain through Christ, and seen through the Church at worship, in the community and in the mission of God according to the gospel. Such hope is shared by those who know Christ as Lord and God. Such is the life Christians are called to live. In short, we need to study God’s Word earnestly and learn to apply it to every aspect of our lives.

Sharing faith and God’s love is what brings people into the community of believers. When the un-churched see the people of God living differently, they are provided a vision of hope for a life filled with God’s blessing. The real evidence that we are doing the work of evangelism comes when the life we live as Christians looks less like a fallen and broken world, and more like a community of faith, a com-munity inviting others to come and see the goodness of God.

The evangelizing Church is one that grows in faith and love. It is filled with disciples, not members. Growing together in faith and our calling as disciples will most certainly strengthen our ministries. My prayer is that we are faithful disciples, serving as Christ served. In order to do that, we must first grow in faith and learn to share our many blessings with others.

Grace and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila