Beyond the Pulpit

February 2018

Greetings; may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.

“We are an oasis of hope in Jesus Christ, come see, be fed, go tell.” 

According to an ancient story, four men were walking through the woods, deeper than any  of them had ever ventured before.  They were in search of food for their village, which was near the brink of starvation.  The men were hungry too.  Suddenly, they came to a high wall.   The wall appeared to go on forever in both directions.  Intrigued, they built a ladder to see what was on the other side.

When the first man climbed to the top, he cried out in delight.  The same thing happened with both the second and the third man.  When the fourth man reached the top, he smiled at what he saw: lush, green gardens with fruit trees of every kind, streams teeming with fish, and animals, both wild and tame, in abundance.  Like the others, he was tempted to jump down.  But then he thought of his family, friends, and neighbors and went back to share with them the good news he had discovered.

So it is with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  So often people who are spiritually hungry go in search of nourishment.  And when they find what they are looking for, they jump in and naturally begin to thrive.  Sadly, like the men in the story, they tend to forget that there are others in need of the same Spiritual nourishment.  Though they are filled with joy, they don’t share with what they have found with family and friends.

Closer to home, congregations get caught in the same predicament.  People, in search of a church home that will satisfy their needs often find themselves jumping into the life of a church when they find it.  Though filled with joy, or at least satisfaction, too often they keep what they have found to themselves.

The reasons are as varied as the people in the church.   A very few do not share what they have found because they want to keep it for themselves (you know, people commonly want to be the last one in).  But most seem to fall into the categories of “we don’t want to bother people” or “what if they are not interested” and often, “my friends already have church homes” or “what if they don’t like it here?”  These are only a few of the excuses I have heard over the years.

It brings to mind the words of an Anglican Bishop who said, “the one commandment of Christ we have kept with some degree of joy, is Jesus’ admonition to the three disciples: ‘See that you tell no one.’ The Messianic secret is one we have guarded closely.”

I understand how frightening the word “evangelism” has become in our tradition.  Furthermore, I know how uncomfortable, if not difficult, it is to share one’s faith.  However, as I said I my sermon on January 21, now is the “time to lay it on the line.”

We are at a crucial crossroads in the life of a church.   It is time we put some energy into growing as a congregation, or we can prepare for the inevitable decline.  I would prefer that we focus on growing.

We have, I believe, a wonderful congregation.  We are a truly loving and caring, Biblically grounded, Christ centered, and have servant hearts.  We have created a place where people can truly flourish in their faith.  Clearly, by your presence and participation you have found something that has fed your spirit.

We must fulfill the “go tell” part of our mission statement.  I know it might be uncomfortable, but if you have found Santa Fe to be good for you, then you should be willing to share it.  When you find a good restaurant, you tell your friends.  When you see a good movie, you encourage others to see it.  When you find almost anything to be of benefit or value, you share it with your friends.  Why should your church be any different?  Indeed, what we have found in Jesus Christ should always be the first thing, the most important thing you have to share.

An invitation is not a ‘bother’, you can’t know if someone is ‘interested’ or will ‘like’ Santa Fe until they check it out for themselves, and I think we would all be surprised at how many people are considering the idea of a new church home, indeed, they might not realize it until you plant the seed.

I know we are not perfect, but there are people in our community who can help move us closer to it.  But they won’t come if you don’t invite them!

So please, set aside any of your anxieties and invite a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, possibly even a stranger, to come see Santa Fe.   Whether they say “yes” or “no” is in God’s hands, but inviting them to “come and see” is up to us.

Yours in Christ,  Mitch