This is a New Year’s call to be who you need to be and to do what you need to do. Am I over the line on this one? I have no desire to declare a papal-like edict, but there is a part of me that would like to cross that line.
Serving in leadership for a denominational family of churches and people does at times seem an assignment that would be well served by everyone having some being and doing stuff in common. And this is where the temptation to cross the line shows up. When a playing coach calls a series of plays and every team member commits to being their best and doing their part, games can and will be won.
Our approved national game plan—our mission statement—is to demonstrate that: “We are one family, serving one Lord, on one mission for the transformation of individuals, families and communities.” So who does that mean we need to be? And what does that mean we need to do?
As the national executive director, I know cannot presume to tell you who to be and what to do. But I’m about to put my toe right up to the line by suggesting some ways that you as individuals and as local churches can make our national family mission statement come alive.
Be one family. What if we each commit to pray for one another regularly, specifically and passionately? That our nuclear and church families would be healthy and spiritually reproductive? That our shared ministries and educational institutions would experience the blessing and power of God in their kingdom contributions? That honorable Christian stewardship and generosity would flourish among us?
What if we would reject passivity and aloofness and rather choose to care about the fact that we really are a family? That there are teams of servant leaders, staff and many volunteers, striving to provide added value to both the local and the bigger denominational realities?
What if we would make ourselves proactively available to collaborate as functional partners in pursuing church health and multiplication and leadership development by sharing resources? What if we each committed to do our appropriate part in tithes and offerings so that both our local and denominational opportunities for effective kingdom impact were well funded? These all are being and doing calls that make for healthy family. How about it?
Serving one Lord. Two things here: What if we adjusted our everyday living in one significant way so that what we say we believe was better connected to how we live? Because we have chosen Jesus as Lord, we need to intentionally give him the right to tell us how to live. This is the year to bite the bullet on a bad habit, on laziness or greed or on prayerlessness.
It is our God who mandates that we should love each other, right? What if we took that critique weapon right out of the minds of our neighbors, classmates and colleagues this year? If that happened, they would need to conclude that Jesus was changing us. We could never pull that off on our own. Doing so would make him our Lord.
On one mission. Let’s make it simple. What if we asked God to give us a real burden for a pre-Christian or family we know. So that what breaks his heart would break ours too. And then what if we absolutely committed to intentionally build a spend-time- with, come-on-over, you-matter-to-me friendship with them? There are, no doubt, church family based outreach and connection options too. But even these will be best served by existing, healthy and caring relationships.
The last part of our mission statement says that it’s all about transformed lives. If we would be and do this, the Spirit of God will do the transforming. He has promised that. This really is one of those times when I’d like to cross that line I talked about. Since I can’t, would you be willing to accept it as an urgent call from an under shepherd? My heart aches and prays for this to happen among U.S. Mennonite Brethren.