We long to see compassion, community, and communion with Christ
offered to every person in Summit County.
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus felt compassion – a deep, even gut-wrenching, love – towards hurting people. He had compassion on the hurting and hungry crowds prior to the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000. (Matthew 14:14, 15:32) Jesus had compassion on a widow whose son had just died. (Luke 7:13) He told the story of the Good Samaritan, who had compassion on the injured man. (Luke 10:33) In each instance these feelings of compassion were followed by actions: feeding the hungry, raising the dead, and caring for the injured man. At Christ Lutheran we strive to offer this same compassion as we are filled with the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of Acts chapter 2 we are given a glimpse into the life of the early church. What we see is a life in community. The church ate together, prayed together, worshipped together, and shared their possessions with each other. It was life lived together. God gave the community of the early church favor with the surrounding people and added to their number those who were being saved. The people of our world long for community, and the church gets to fulfill the longing of the world by offering it to them. As we do so at Christ Lutheran, we believe we will have favor with the outside world and see the Lord adding to our number those being saved.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He came proclaiming the Good News that God’s Kingdom was at hand. (Mark 1:14-15) He showed how life in the Kingdom of God is, at its core, an intimate relationship, or communion, with the Almighty. So much so that we are able to address God as Father. Jesus modeled all these things through His words, works, and ways. Ultimately, His love led Him to sacrifice Himself upon a cross so that He could pay the price for the sins of the world, and in exchange all who believe in Him could receive communion with God. The first disciples spread this Good News. (1 John 1:3) Today, we proclaim this same Good News to the world and invite all people into communion with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Congregational Health includes things like calling and supporting pastors, ensuring proper systems and personnel are in place for financial management, ensuring the appropriate structures and lay leadership are in place for a congregation’s life together, and facilitating clear communication between members. Just like a nuclear family thrives when there are healthy systems in place, so too a congregation, which is a family of believers, thrives most fully when these healthy systems exist. As we work toward Congregational Health, we make it a priority for our systems and ministries to be light-weight and low-maintenance, with a high degree of cooperation between congregations whenever possible. We emphasize this for two reasons. One, in order to use our resources most efficiently, and two, so that our members aren’t bogged down with the day-to-day operations of church business, but instead are freed up to live as missionaries to their own neighborhoods and networks.
We believe that discipleship happens most fully in the context of deep, genuine relationships. In relationship with other Christians, some of whom are further along in their walk with Jesus than others, both the knowledge of Christ’s Word and example of His Ways can be passed along.
We also believe that our 21st century western culture has in many ways lost the art and skill of relationships. Our world is more transient than ever, which often leads to long distances between biological family members. Social media often becomes a replacement of, instead of a supplement to, in-person interactions. And many people have grown up in severely broken homes and communities and consequently have never experienced healthy families or friendships.
As is always the case, Jesus and His church are the answer. We are intentional about doing discipleship within the context of family and relationships, not apart from them. When a child goes through the confirmation process, his or her parents are also included. When leaders are developed, they are given both information and a mentor for the task at hand through what we call huddles. And even when disciples are equipped and sent out as missionaries to the community, we emphasize doing so in the context of an extended spiritual family through what we call missional communities.
Our community is a mission field. We don’t assume that by merely having a church building in which we have worship services that we are fulfilling Christ’s directive to be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8) Inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we seek to become involved with the people and places we serve in our communities. As we do so we seek to improve the lives of others through the love and Word of Christ. Each community is unique which can lead to us serving in different ways. But our core desire is the same in every location: to serve the local community in tangible ways with the love of Jesus.