It's Monday morning as I write this blog, and we have just completed our two week series on the mission of Walnut Street Baptist Church. I thought I would take some time to write today and explain how we landed on this, and talk a little bit about where we take it from here. When we began to transition from Pastor Rusty being the Senior Pastor to him taking on a different role, we knew there would be many unanswered questions about where we are going from here.
One of the things that began to come out in conversations, and even some bible study discussions, was a sense that we needed to communicate what it is that drives what we do. Why are we here? What is our purpose? As a staff, we have always felt that we were driven by Christ's command to make disciples in Matthew 28, but it became apparent that we once again needed to make sure everyone knew where we were going and why. I began a time of study and reflection in God's word, asking the question, "What is that you want for us and from us Father?" It's important that you know I was driven to Scripture for this. There are countless books available that speak to the Church and her mission, many of which I have found very helpful. For this time in the life of our church I didn't want to present Rick Warren's or John Piper's or anyone else vision for the church. I wanted to know what God's word has to say to us.
Two things became readily apparent in my study. First, Christ commands us to love God with every part of who we are, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). To put it as simply as possible Christ commands everyone who would follow Him to Love God and Love People. Christ says that loving God is the first and greatest commandment, and loving people is just like it. We cannot be followers of Christ without following these commands. If this is His command to us as individuals, we must also take this command to pertain to the Church gathered here at Walnut Street Baptist Church.
Secondly, after His death, burial, and resurrection but before His ascension, Christ commanded His followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Christ commands His people to go and share the good news of His grace and mercy, and to teach them what it means to follow Christ. After some discussion among the staff we decided to summarize this as Grow Disciples. As I said in my sermon yesterday, we chose the word "grow" because of our context today. When we hear the word "make" we think of a project that you begin, complete, and then move on. Growing indicates process, time, and investment. The disciple of Christ never stops growing. We don't reach a point where we say, "Ok, I'm all done. I am complete." That point will not occur until we see our Savior face to face. Growth in Christ is a lifelong process in which we are more and more transformed into the image of Christ.
So where do we go from here? That seems to be the million dollar question. Here is my hope: I pray that as a church we will develop a passion to pursue obedience to Christ in these areas. I pray we take it upon ourselves to go and make disciples, telling people in our lives about the good news of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. I pray that we will have a passion for seeing people grow in their knowledge and love of Christ throughout their lives. I pray that we will invest our lives in the lives of others so they might know Christ. I pray we will evaluate how we spend our time and energy, both individually and collectively, and ask if what we are doing is producing fruit for the Kingdom of God.
In talking with one of our church members, he communicated that he felt this approach (Love God-Love People-Grow Disciples) was simple, easy to remember, and biblical. This was the goal. We wanted to present the church with something you could remember, that was easy to understand, and most importantly was biblically sound and based. The call is clear. What remains to be seen is how we will respond. My prayer is we will simply say, "Yes Lord!".