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November 30, 2017, 8:32 AM

Four Truths for Every Congregation


Rev. Dr. Dave Daubert is an ELCA Pastor, writer and consultant for “Day 8 Strategies.”[1]  I have known him for years and was in seminary with his wife who was studying to become a Deaconess in the church.  A week ago, I came across some thoughts he shared on the future of the church which are true in every setting—no matter the size, context or health of the current congregation.  I thought these four truths are worth sharing especially as we begin a new church year and look to the future ministries that we will undertake together in 2018. Dr. Daubert writes:

  • The future of your church depends on your willingness to be neighbor.
  • You can only do evangelism with people who aren’t Christian (yes, some of these may already come to church!).
  • The future of your church depends on people you haven’t yet met.
  • You will only meet those (future) people if you are willing to meet them.[2]

The simple fact is that no congregation can ignore any of these and remain faithful or even viable long term—no exceptions. But intentionally responding to these truths with action not only brings hope for a bright future, but the opportunity to be a part of God’s mission in the world today.

Building on the first truth above, Dr. Daubert says, “Every person has multiple “mission fields” in their life. Sometimes they overlap like when a person lives, works and goes to church in the same neighborhood. This used to be pretty common. But often they don’t overlap completely. People may live in one place, work in another, and worship and attend church in another. In each place there are different people and our call to be neighbor exists in each one. We need to know and relate to the people around our homes, in our work (or retirement) place, and yes, [around] our congregation.”[3]

The key is seeing each one as a “mission field”—as a potential place for inviting people to come join us not just on Sunday mornings, but for dinner and study on Wednesday nights, or line-dancing on Tuesdays, or food distribution on Saturdays (just to name a few possible invitations one could extend).  So what mission fields exist in your life that you could explore more fully?  If you don’t think you have any, then remember the last two truths listed above: “The future of your church depends on people you haven’t yet met,” and “you will only meet those (future) people if you are willing to meet them.” 

This is a great time of year to not only meet new people, but invite them to come to our community of faith.  Personally, I have two new neighbors on my street, so I plan to bake some cookies, bring them by their homes, introduce myself… and bring along a card inviting them to the Christmas Cantata on Dec. 17 and our Christmas Eve services.  (There are extras in the Narthex if you want to take some!)  If they say “we already have a church home,” great!  It is always good to know another brother or sister in Christ.  If they say, “we don’t believe in that stuff” or “I’m spiritual but not religious” or some other way of saying “thanks but no thanks, ”then let it go gracefully and with an open-ended invitation.  You might consider saying something like: “I just want you to know, you’re always welcome at Holy Spirit, even if it is not for worship, and if you ever feel like you are in need of prayer, let me know, and I can share it with our church’s prayer team.”  They may never take you up on it, but then again, they might find themselves in need of prayer (we all need prayer at least once or twice in our lives, right? J) and remember your offer—or seek out a church because they encountered the grace and love of Christ in you.

This Advent, that is my prayer for us all—that we would not only encounter, but also be the embodiment of God’s love and grace to our neighbors as we wait for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

-Pr. Nathan

[1] For Christians, the “eighth day” represents the day of resurrection—the start of a new week—and thus the start of us being a new creation grounded in Christ.

[2] From: https://www.day8strategies.com/blog/four-truths-every-church-must-face

[3] https://www.day8strategies.com/blog/the-future-depends-on-your-willingness-to-be-neighbor


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