“Why do you exist (as a congregation)?” I have asked this of every congregation I have visited in the last 3½ years. It is surprising how many have never given this much thought. Yet, if we cannot answer the question, then we have to ask, “Why are we doing what we are doing?”
So it is only appropriate that as the new pastor of SMLC, I ask that of each of you who are members of SMLC. Many answers might be given, but let’s examine three texts for the next three (or more) Sundays that will help us focus on the Biblical answer to “Why do you exist?”
Matthew 28:16-20 [NAS 95]
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We will examine what the entire text has to say, specifically in our relationship to God, our own spiritual life and other believers, and our relationship with those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:42 [NAS 95]
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
This second text gives us insight into the earliest gatherings of Christians. The pattern established here has been the hallmark of the Church since that first century.
Ephesians 4:11-16 [GW]
He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts ‹to his church›. Their purpose is to prepare God’s people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ. This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
This third text shows us the relationship between pastor and people and the complementary roles for each. Note the final aspect: “so that it builds itself up in love.” Let that guide our thoughts, actions, and words in the coming weeks and in our work together as the Body of Christ, known here locally as Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church.
As we consider each text (and perhaps more than one Sunday per text!!), we will discover why we exist as individuals and as a congregation.