September Pastor's Pen
Four years ago, denominational leadership recognized that we had reached a critical moment in our life together. While individuals and congregations were engaged in faithful ministry, as a denomination, it could be said we were wandering without a sense of unified purpose. Further, we were mired in soul-sapping conflict. Something needed to change.
As a body, we were called into a time of intentional discernment. Like Noah in the ark, Moses before the burning bush, the Israelites in the desert, Ruth following Naomi to Judah, Elijah on Mount Horeb, Mary during her visit with Elizabeth, Jesus entering the desert following his baptism, and Paul after he had been struck blind, for almost two years, we dwelled in a challenging, disorienting, and uncomfortable, yet creative, exciting, and hopeful season of waiting and watching for God’s presence and direction. Throughout, as a community, we were centered in Jesus Christ, guided by Scripture, and led by the Holy Spirit, resulting in the emergence of a new, unifying, and compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren.
“Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”
The vision was formally affirmed at Annual Conference 2021. Now the work really begins as, together, we seek to call and equip creative and courageous disciples to move into our neighborhoods with Jesus Christ. While the vision calls us to move in the same direction, as we venture into our neighborhoods, each individual, each congregation, each district, as well as the denomination as a whole, is called to be responsive to the unique needs of their neighborhood and discern the best ways to meet those needs in light of the gifts they have to share.
As we embrace the challenge and seek to live into the vision, all are encouraged to read the full interpretive document / documento interpretativo / dokiman entèpretatif and make use of the Bible Study series / estudios bíblicos. We also encourage you engage in conversation around these questions as they relate to your own setting:
- How does the compelling vision reflect the soul of your congregation? How does it reflect the soul of your district? How does it reflect the soul of the Church of the Brethren?
- How do you see this vision being lived out in your own neighborhood?
- What might you need to let go of?
- What are the issues facing your community which could be healed/addressed by the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ?
- How might we work more intentionally at calling and equipping innovative, adaptable, and fearless disciples to live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ?
- What new steps could your congregation take to more closely align your way of life with the Jesus in the Neighborhood vision? What might you need to let go of?
- How might you prepare your members? How can you get to know your neighbors better? How can you work to identify ministry partners in your neighborhood?
- What are the creative ways your congregation, your district, or the denomination as a whole, might embody this vision?
- How might we be known – both as congregations and as a denomination — if we truly embrace and live out the vision of Jesus in the Neighborhood?
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