During the past several days, I have been reflecting on the situation in our parish, Cypress Lutheran Parish. As we seek to move forward to carry out the mission and the ministry that God has given to us, I believe that there are three things that we need: good stewardship, faith and vision.
We need to have good stewardship to make the best use of the resources that God has given us. That has been the driving force behind the formation of Cypress Lutheran Parish. We have come together so that we can pool our resources and continue having a strong ministry. And yet we cannot make good stewardship our greatest value. If we do, then our attention becomes totally focused on cutting back and reducing expenses. While it is important for us to be as efficient as we can be, reducing costs is not our mission. Our mission is to share, through words and actions, God’s love and forgiveness, given to us through Jesus Christ, with all people of every generation everywhere so that all people might believe in Jesus and be saved, and grow in faith toward God and in love toward their neighbours.
That means that another factor is more important than good stewardship, and that is faith. By faith, we believe that the Holy Spirit works in and through the church to achieve God’s purposes in the world. Church work is not like farming or manufacturing where we produce products that we can see and count. The result of the faith work that we do inside and outside the church is invisible. It takes place in people’s hearts and we cannot see it. And when the internal faith of the people we serve moves them to outward actions, the results are often in the far-off future, and we cannot see it either. Yet we must have faith that God will give growth to the seeds we plant, because faith is what the church is all about.
Also very important to our Parish is vision. And this is an area where I believe that I have not done a very good job. The leaders of any group, but especially those in the church, must have a godly vision for the future. Our vision is the dream that we all share, the dream that we all long for, the dream that we work together towards. And I believe that our dream in the Cypress Lutheran Parish is that we would be communities that many people of all generations would call their spiritual home. They would be communities where people would truly love and worship God and truly love and serve our neighbours. It is our common dream that will unite us. It is our common dream that will attract others to join with us. It is our common dream that will motivate us to make the changes that we need to make to achieve the dream.
Good stewardship, faith and vision. We need all three to effectively carry out the mission God has given to us. If we emphasize good stewardship without vision, we go nowhere. If we emphasize vision without good stewardship, we fail because of improper use of resources. If we emphasize faith, without vision and good stewardship, we become a holy huddle that fails in our mission. Good stewardship, faith and vision. We need all three. But most of all, we need faith.
(This article was written for the May 2006 edition of The Binder, the monthly newsletter of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK. It has been slightly modified from its original form.)