Friday, August 26, 2016

Real love, real people

So I am struggling with mission statements.  Woods Chapel came up with theirs in 1995:  connecting people to Jesus Christ.  In 1996 the Methodist Church adopted: Making disciples of Jesus Christ.  Some years later they added, “for the transformation of the world.”

I may be wrong.  I probably am wrong, but I am ready to move on from both of them.  Neither speak to the concept of serving, neither speak to the concept of touching the "least of these."

I may be wrong.  I probably am, but “making?” In this culture we don’t make anyone do anything.  Can I make you give 10% of your income?  NO.  We invite people,  we don’t make them. 

And disciples?  We don’t even know what that means.  Ask 50 Christians to define disciple, and you will get 50 different answers.  The people on the street have no idea what a disciple is or what discipleship means.  Neither do most people in the church.  We need to find and use words that the average people on the street use and understand.

We need to find some ways to speak so that the culture of today understands what we are saying. If we can’t win the culture of today, we are missing the point.  I have been thinking for several years about the greatest commandment:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  I want to boil that down to this:  Love God, love others or loving God, loving others.  I am not going to ask anyone to change their missions statement, but I am thinking that this is a slogan that I want to live by:  loving God, loving others.

A few weeks ago, I saw this slogan on the back of a church shirt:  Real love, real people.  BOOM!  People on the street will get that.  So please forgive me if I start talking about loving God and loving others, or real love, real people.  I just can’t help myself.  It seems so relevant to me.

It’s a beautiful day in God’s world, be sure to see the good.


Anonymous said...

These thoughts get a standing ovation. Good for you Jeff. Back when these "Connecting" slogans came out, almost every church's slogan sounded the same. It became almost like a slogan "fad." When slogans become that common, most folks don't pay attention to it any more, or take its meaning seriously.

I'm sure you'll come up with something good and something meaningful, that points straight to the heart of the message of the Bible as a whole. I like this Real Love, Real People, except it may connote that if you're not like us, you're not real. None of us, this side of heaven have a corner on being the real deal when others are not.

Prayers. You are definitely on the right track, and you're very good at this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

The deep thought reflected in your post caused me to want to add one more comment. When you begin to develop a mission statement, you need to think so thoroughly, as you already have, about the world we live in and what a good many people are needing when they come to church.

The reason I think the whole "connecting" thing did not resonate is that today's world is full of hurting people, broken people, hopeless people, who aren't anywhere near wanting to "connect" to anything or anybody yet. In fact for some, they idea of connecting sounds full of risk.

This got me to thinking what many of these hurting, broken, and discouraged people are wanting or needing when they venture a trip to church. I think they are probably needing love and hope, without the threat of anyone getting to close, until they are ready.

With that in mind, I think "Offering Love, Offering Hope" and even stated in a better way by you Jeff, would accomplish several things.

1) The world can use many churches who offer love and hope. So if other authentic churches copy your slogan it's all good.

2)If your church "offers" it is offered in many ways.

It is offered through the preaching of Grace...the Bible's message.
It is offered through kind looks, warm smiles, and a handshake.
It is offered by people who are willing to connect you as much but no more than you want to be, to Jesus and to people in the church.
It is offered in helping others with real world needs, if they don't mind.
Love and hope are offered in planting a seed and leaving the results to God.
And many other ways that you know much better than I.

Thank you for helping us all give this some thought.
We love you.

Kelly Edmondson said...

I wholeheartedly (no pun intended) endorse a love-focused "slogan." The older I get, the more I realize my faith needs to boil down to LOVE. Love: Paying it forward for over 2000 years.