Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mission Re Do-Do

Our congregation's Church Growth Committee has determined that our churches mission statement needs to be changed in order to energize members and cause more excitement (maybe even enthusiasm) in the church. The below section was some thoughts I put together and used for talking with members in the church. Didn't have much luck with it though, most answers were, "we have to do something", "nobody knows what the old Mission Statement was". After some thought I felt that I may be opposing it for sport and not true concern for the church. After all, I have to believe that mission statements are not even required for a church to have and may very well be an invention from the last half of the 20th century, from the business sector. If it is modeled after what business organizations do it's at best unknown by the majority of the workforce, and ridiculed by the rest. I decided that to oppose it would be silly, it's a symptom, not the problem that we have. Besides I'm going to be in Michigan on vacation next weekend when we have the vote.
I am beginning to see a pattern in the church though. We're told that we shouldn't care what kind music we use in service, we shouldn't care what kind of service we have, we shouldn't care about the kinds of bible classes we do, we shouldn't care about mission statements, we shouldn't care about things we do that aren't biblical. I'm just beginning to not care now. Here's the two statements, I still like the old one better.
Mission Statement:
In response to God's love, people of St. XXXX are committed through Word and Sacrament ministry to make disciples of all ages in the congregation, community, and world.

proposed change

Building relationships in Christ for now and forever.

Lets look at the Mission Statement,
In response to God's love, Good start, it recognizes that we are not doing anything in and of ourselves, rather we are merely responding to God's love, no works or decisions.

people of St. XXXX are committed through Word and Sacrament ministry Word and Sacrament, as Lutherans we know that this is the way that God has chosen to interact with us. Apart from the Word and Sacrament, no relationship can exist with Christ.

to make disciples of all ages in the congregation, community, and world. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19. This ending is biblical and good, recognizing that those close to us also need to hear the Word.
The good things then about our mission statement, it's biblical, specific, and reflects Lutheran traditions by referencing our response to Gods love, not our works, and proclaims the absolute requirement of Word and Sacrament to accomplish what Christ has commanded.
The bad, it's not short enough for a bumper sticker, but Mission Statements aren't suppose to be. They are to accurately sum up the purpose of an organization.

Now for the proposed Mission Statement
Building relationships, Who is doing this, and why or how? Silence here could be promoting our works, or believed works in this area.

in Christ Christ is mentioned, and pretty much centered in the statement, nice touch. Unfortunaly that is the only Christ centered connection. "in Christ" in this context is only modifying the type of relationship that is being built. The word "relationship" is actually the focus and subject.

for now and forever. More modification on relationships. I like how it expresses the eternal.

The good, it's short, and will fit on a bumper sticker, it also creates a nice image in people's minds. Socioligist and marketers tell us that people in modern America are seeking relationships and connections with others. So from a marketing standpoint this should appeal to non-members who may hear it.
The bad, it's short, so short that it will fit on a bumper sticker. Mission statements aren't required to be short. They are to tell who, what and how of an organization's purpose, with length of statement only being a secondary concern.

Summary: The proposed statement is not a proper mission statement. It would be a great ad campaign, or even an official Outreach Slogan of the church. The older one gives a fuller and descriptive statement. It should be kept for this reason. Recommend adopting the proposed statement as our official outreach or evangalism slogan.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Star Spangled Worship

Alright, I know that this Sunday was the "Celebration Feast of American Independence" but I am really against having flags in the sanctuary now. Let me explain, the songs provided in the "blanded service" folder where mostly patriotic songs. As an example the hymn of response was America the Beautiful, and the departing hymn was some drivel sang to the tune of God Of Our Fathers that thankfully I can't remember the words to, and no it didn't mention Christ any more than the previous hymn. The sermon was actually better than normal because law and gospel where mentioned if not coherently connected. Of coarse the only recognized theme was the "we gotta grow for God" message. The clincher though was towards the end of the service, together we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag and then to the Christian flag...... WHAT!! The only thing left to do was burn a pinch of incense and pledge alligiance to Caesar. I still can't believe it. We haven't done this before, and it just seems soooo wrong.
Folks, I'm a veteran, I think America is the greatest country on earth, I place my hat over my heart and sing the national anthem at ball games, I even say the pledge of allegiance at village board meetings, but I am really opposed to saying it during Divine Service in God's house. My oldest son of 13 had bells and questions going off during the whole service, "Dad that song didn't even mention God let alone Christ", "Dad isn't saying the pledge during worship kind of like idol worship?" "Dad why isn't pastor wearing his robe?" "Dad......" "Shhhh, we'll talk about it after church" I would quickly try to say and silence him, not wanting to draw any attention that would seem disrespectful to anyone.
Am I being overly critical? Do I expect too much because I spend much of my spare time reading Lutheran blogs? I don't think so, but I will re-examine my viewpoint, knowing that I may be biased, but I really think I'm going to end up talking to my elder over this.