“In Baptism we are sent to live forgiving and forgiven. This is Discipleship. In obedience to Christ we follow Him to serve our neighbor and share His love. This is Mission.”
I think the most important person in any of our churches on a Sunday morning is the one who walks through the door for the first time. This is counter intuitive to the general mindset prevalent in many of our congregations. It is easy to fall into the belief that without “us” the congregation wouldn’t even exist. I hope to change this attitude by discussing the Biblical priority of the church to be on the “Go.”
Why is this so important to me? Because at one time I was the person who walked through the door for the first time. While I grew up with a knowledge of the Christian belief in Jesus and knew the facts of the death and resurrection, I didn’t believe any of it. I thought that “religion” was a crutch for weak people. And then I became weak.
It was a LCMS mission congregation in the quintessential New England community of Exeter, New Hampshire when I first met Jesus face to face. And He changed my life. Six years later I was headed to Seminary in St. Louis and four years later was ordained and installed at a small struggling congregation in Satellite Beach, Florida.
For the last eighteen years (as of 2017) I served as the Senior Pastor of a dynamically growing urban congregation in Chicago, Illinois. Much of what I will talk to you about here has been learned and honed in the crucible of trial and error as well as through navigating the cultural conflict of Christ’s church and the world’s idol of self.
What I have learned is that while any of us can confess Jesus as Lord and rejoice in our salvation by grace through faith, the constant tug and pull of our sinful nature too often twists Christ’s directive to detours counter to His commands and injurious to His churches success.
To redirect our focus to God’s purpose for us, I will explore what a disciple is and isn’t, how disciples are nurtured and sent on mission, the importance of holistic stewardship as opposed to simply monetary stewardship, and the essential need for a lifestyle of catechesis through study of the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions.
Currently my wife Jennifer, our dog Bailey, and I live in Chicago. Our four children are almost all grown up with three living on their own and number four heading into her last year of college. Every day I marvel at God’s grace to call me out of the darkness of self-worship and welcome me into the kingdom of His grace. As I like to say, “God is good,” and I am grateful.