God bless the First Presbyterian Church of Norwalk, Ohio. Sara and I were excited to be with you on July 14 and 15. Your hospitality and kindness were much appreciated. As Tricia mentioned in her children’s moment, together we are starting a new chapter. We are looking forward to being part of the congregation and the greater community.
As we begin our time together, I wanted to share with you some thoughts on ministry. I have been a pastor for almost twenty years, and during that time, I have encountered many of the same ideas again and again. About ten years ago, I began prayerfully to collect them and share them with others. They might be called touchstones for ministry. I hope that they may become reference points for our journey together.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures remain at the center of who we are as Christians.
We must understand the Church first and last as a worshipping community. We offer our best to God in worship, and we encourage others to do the same.
Worship is never complete until we are moved into the world in witness and compassion. An active spiritual life is revealed in the mission of the church. The People of God are a people on the move.
Being the body of Christ, each of us is a member. Everyone has a role to play and a responsibility to help the church fulfill her calling.
All of us are sinners, saved only by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Good discipleship means humility and an openness to loving accountability.
Conflict, although inevitable, is not evil. Every disagreement is an opportunity for all sides to show the love of Christ. We strive to speak the truth in love even when it is inconvenient. Matthew 18 provides a healthy model for dealing with conflict.
Holding closely to the truth of God’s Word, the church should provide a safe environment to ask difficult questions. We seek to apply the lessons of faith to our lives.
The burden of proof always lies with the person wishing to change the status quo. “We have always done it that way” is a legitimate answer. However, that sentence is the beginning of a conversation and not the end.
Decisions about the use of facilities, resources, and talents are based upon our calling as a church. Our preference is for sustainable ministries which demonstrate our love of God, our love of one another, and our love of neighbor.
Jesus Christ is risen, and he is Lord. His claim on our lives is complete. Discipleship is not a game, a hobby or a past-time. The life of faith is not for the faint-hearted.
Grace & Peace,