Why. It's the one-word question loved by children. It's sometimes the hardest for adults to answer. Why is the grass green? Why does 2+2=4? Why is Daddy's beard scratchy? Why should we be kind? Why does God love us? Why should we care about school? I love "why" questions. I don't have all the answers but they show a window into our pursuit for meaning and purpose. And it provokes deep thought and reflection about life.
Keith Doornbos of our denomination's Center for Church Renewal visited with some of our church leaders to help us navigate the next steps in our journey as a church. The main takeaway was helping us remember our "Why". Why does Sussex CRC exist as a worship community? Why did God place us here in this town in this moment in time? Why do we focus on the ministries we do? As a church, we've identified our mission as "Growing Disciples of Jesus who transform lives for Christ" and our vision as "cultivating grace-filled, authentic relationships so together we become more like Christ." We believe God's Word is the driving force for this mission and vision, but what does that exactly look like? Here's a few examples:
A teenager growing up in the church wondering what her place is and whether anyone cares, discovering how much she loves to help teach the younger kids about Jesus.
The person once stuck in grief looking back over 13 weeks of GriefShare to see healing, new friends and a renewed sense of God's presence through their journey.
The older person thinking their time to impact others has passed only to make friends with a younger person and share their faith stories with them.
The person who never cared about God comes to church looking for something more in life being embraced and shown God's love and grace.
Stories like this are what excites me about the local church. Churches love to be busy with lots of ministries and things to do. At Sussex CRC we're blessed to offer many ministries to many different kinds of people. Personally, I love when there are lots of people in church when I'm trying to work in my office. But the things we do are not the point. The full and busy building is not the point. The point is connecting people with each other and with God. That is so much more than the activities we offer. It should be the lives we all live daily.
If we are all growing as disciples of Jesus who transform lives for Christ, looking for opportunities to connect with others should be as natural as breathing. If we are hearing from God daily through prayer and his Word, we will likely start to look and sound like him too. Personally, I was energized as I remembered why I wanted to become a pastor in the first place and serve this church in particular. I longed for people to hear the good news about Jesus and see how the Holy Spirit impacts their lives because of it. It's what makes me love preaching and walking with God's people. I loved this church because of it's intergenerational fellowship and commitment to each other. I've seen us grow even stronger in these aspects as well as our commitment to engage the local community. I see God at work among us, helping us stay focused on living out our church's "Why". What's your "Why"?