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October 26, 2004



The greatest need in the church today is not “mo’ money,” bigger buildings, more programs or catchy phrases but leaders. Craig Miller in his book, “Next Church. Now” tells us that the kind of leadership needed in a particular setting is determined by God’s call. He uses the ministry of Paul to illustrate his point. He writes, “Paul’s goal was not just to start one church; his vision was to share the gospel with as many people as possible. And Paul’s call was not simply to create faith communities for people just like himself. If that had been his goal, he would have been content to create churches for Jewish Christians throughout the Roman Empire. Paul took the radical leap of faith to create new faith communities that would speak to the needs and visions of those who were very different from him in upbringing and heritage.” This is the tried and true axiom of form follows function. We must lead our congregations in the discovery and for some rediscovery of what is our function. Why do we exist, in this place, and in this time period? This question in a general sense has already been answered for us. The church exists for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. We exist to fulfill the Great Commission, “Go and make of all disciples!” But we must also answer this question in the specific, as well. So as we seek to start new faith communities and revitalize existing ones Miller would have us ask ourselves five questions.
· Who are the most gifted leaders in our congregations? (And who are the most gifted leaders in our conference?
· Are these leaders in places of ministry that allow them to reach new people for Christ?
· Do we know the surrounding communities well enough to identify the types of people groups that reside in our neighborhoods?
· Do we understand the cultural context in which Christians and non-Christians live their daily lives?
· Do we have a passion for sharing our faith in a way that non-Christians can understand so they can make their own decisions about God?
If the church is faithful and truthful as they interact with these questions I believe they will be challenged to move beyond the status quo and move seriously into their communities with a message of love and grace.

Once again I invite your comments, questions and reflections.
Bishop James Swanson

Posted by Bishop at 05:41 PM | Comments (2)