Understanding why a life of faith matters
It’s possible the central challenge for organized religion in North America today is relevance. If people don’t know what problem the church and a life of faith solve in their lives, then neither will be relevant. A church that is perceived as irrelevant will be limited in influence when it comes to growing stewards and disciples.
Why are we doing all this church stuff and paying attention to Jesus in the first place? How do we more clearly articulate why a life of faith matters and what benefits might come from participating in a congregation? Jesus was pretty clear when he said that a person could live life in a way that is merely going through the motions or could live life abundantly and know the life that truly is life. Jesus invites everyone to participate in a salvation that is about more meaningful, holistic, connected, love-filled, wisdom-driven lives that in turn make the world a better place.
For a deeper dive on this topic, see this Currents in Theology and Mission article: Transformational Stewardship: Should We Expect a Net Benefit From Following Jesus?
Foundational to the issue of relevancy is the world view, master narrative, or “big history” that we use to make sense of our existence. When we lament that people are behaving as consumers instead of disciples, perhaps the reason is as simple as people regarding the modern world view of science, rationalism, markets, and humanism as having a higher probability of delivering salvation than the traditional world view offered by the church.
God’s story is the most crucial master narrative we need to know for navigating life. We need to keep reimagining God’s story: what we have learned since Jesus and Martin Luther, and even in the last one hundred years, has to make a difference in how we imagine God’s story. Said another way, our theology needs to keep integrating truths revealed to us through science and social science; otherwise, our master narrative will not be competitive in our world or relevant to those we are trying to reach.
Being remarkable not just in theory but in practice
Troubled by Christian evangelistic practices in India, Gandhi referred to the “evangelism of the rose.” Gandhi said that a rose doesn’t have to preach; it just spreads its fragrance, and people can respond as they will.
How might we be more tuned in to the fragrance that our congregations and adherents emit, and the substance behind the scent? How might our concerns for orthodoxy and right beliefs be means to right practices, lest we behave as clanging cymbals and noisy gongs without love? What kind of relational leadership does it take to create thriving, vital cultures of hospitality that model love, concern, and generosity? How might impact and transformation be the discernible perfume of our work?
Pastor Carey Nieuwhof has this to say in his book Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow:
“The trap most leaders fall into is believing that a change in form will be an adequate substitute for a change in substance. But a change in form never makes up for a change in substance. Substantive change is the only thing that will truly change the trajectory of most churches and organizations.”
Featured Resources for June
LIRS invites you and your congregation to infuse new meaning into the phrase welcome the stranger.
New resources for observing Migrant and Refugee Sunday are now available at lirs.org/migrant-refugee-sunday. Consider how you might use some of these resources in the weeks of June:
- On Pentecost Sunday, June 9, we hear a story of how diverse peoples, from the far reaches of the earth, are gathered into one people and speak one language through the gift of God’s Spirit.
- June 9 is also designated as Children’s Day. June 16 is observed as Father’s Day. Both days are times to consider families who are on the move, and to respond to Christ’s call to care for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- On World Refugee Day, June 20, celebrations throughout the United States and the world commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution.
The all-new resources for Migrant and Refugee Sunday include commentaries written by former refugees for preaching on the lessons for Pentecost, a Pentecost/World Refugee Day Litany, Prayer Petitions for June, and other worship and education materials that will be updated each month. You can also find images, language, and stories to enrich and support your congregation’s call to welcome the stranger and to celebrate our oneness in the body of Christ.
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/juneteenth-remembrance/ – published Jun. 19)
(https://www.ntnl.org/june-storms-bring-damage-to-ntnl-congregations/ – published Jun. 20)
(https://www.ntnl.org/walnut-hill-lutheran-in-farmers-branch/ – published Jun. 23)
(https://www.ntnl.org/first-sagrada-familia-in-garland/ – published Jun. 23)
Where in the world is?
- (No visits planned for this week)
- Jun. 30: Our Savior’s (Norse), Clifton
- Jun. 24-26: Personal Days
- Jun. 27: New Start Team Ministry Review: Church of the Damascus Road
- Jun. 28-29: Latino Women’s Retreat, Chicago, IL
- Jun. 30: Lord of Life, Glenn Heights
- Jun. 29: Better Conversations workshop, Arlington, TX
- Jul. 13: Public Witness Team monthly meeting, Arlington, TX
- Aug. 5-10: ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Milwaukee, WI
- Aug. 8-11: Via de Cristo weekend, Argyle, TX
- Aug. 10: Public Witness Team monthly meeting, Arlington, TX
- Aug. 12-15: Intentional Interim Training, Argyle, TX
- Aug. 17: WELCA Annual Women’s/Girl’s Retreat, Grand Prairie, TX
- Aug. 31: ELCA Generosity Project workshop, Keller, TX
- Sep. 8: “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday
- Sep. 13: Briarwood Golf Outing, TBA
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit to Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org) for consideration for upcoming NT-NL News.