Dear Friends in Christ,
Issues facing our world, our country, our state, and our community are numerous, yet solutions seem elusive. National leaders seem too paralyzed to do anything. Sadly the paralysis has not affected spoken words, which at times seem hurtful and spiteful. We hear tiresome excuses such as “You said it first!” and “You did it to me!” Phrases that sadly should have been left on the playground.
With even greater sorrow I see congregations splitting over issues, many self inflicted. Churches are closing at an alarming rate. More and more people are looking elsewhere for solutions to life’s problems.
I know that the problems we face are complex, but I believe our biggest threat is our lack of trust in one another. Government institutions, Wall Street, Christian churches and many other groups are all suffering from a lack of trust. People aren’t looking for solutions because they are so busy questioning the motives of the other person. It doesn’t have to be that way. Community Lutheran has a different story to tell.
We have begun our twenty-fifth year as a congregation. During these twenty-four plus years we have passed a constitution and several revisions, twenty-five annual budgets, and six construction projects with accompanying loans. We have also called three pastors, three DCEs, one DCO, and requested and received three vicars. We elected over 250 church council members, opened a preschool, started a theatre ministry and parish nurse program, and opened the San Marcos satellite. Any of these alone could have caused major contentions. Yet in over twenty-four years of congregational meetings there have been fewer than ten negative votes total. The reason, I believe, is because of the incredible blessing this church has had in lay leadership. Our lay leadership trusts the members of the congregation and that trust is reciprocated. We take time to ask questions, to listen, and to refine proposals. We see budgets not as numbers but as ministries that further the Kingdom of God. I have seen, as you also have seen as clearly as one can imagine, what trust means. Just look around. Just look at all of us who call Community our church home!
But this is not a time to pat ourselves on the back or to fold our arms and sit back and admire what has been accomplished. It’s time to raise our hands and hearts and voices to God who has made all things possible.
However, it is also important for us to not become delusional, thinking that what has happened in other congregations cannot happen here. We are human beings, after all, and it is important for us to keep our focus on the central part of the story, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the faith and trust we have in our God that has made all of this possible. That is why The Story with all of its components is so important.
Our congregation is about to embark on an amazing journey. As God’s people we should all have a firm knowledge of how He has brought grace and life to this world and to us as His own children. I truly believe The Story will give us the opportunity to become more comfortable in our understanding of our faith. I know it will also create excitement in sharing the Gospel message and communicating our Savior’s love to each other and those who need this story of hope.
The Story is a comprehensive view of the Bible told through actual scriptures and summaries true to God’s Word. Instead of concentrating on just one book at a time without seeing how it fits into the big picture, The Story puts all of the important stories together in an accessible, chronological, readable way. Using five different versions, one for adults and books for children of all ages, it is possible for families and the entire congregation to follow the themes for each week in a variety of ways.
We will learn together through personal and family devotions, Sunday school lessons, Sunday morning Bible classes, sermons, videos, music, and lessons read in worship. It won’t matter which campus you attend on a Sunday since the same themes, lessons, and classes will be at both campuses. I want to also emphasize that this will not impact our weekday classes. Lifelight, confirmation, 50+, and men’s and women’s Bible studies will continue with their own agendas and topics.
What is even more exciting will be the coordination of music to the weekly themes through hymns, praise songs, and music from our choirs. Our lay leaders and members are making a special effort to create an exciting year in music to enhance the worship experience.
It will be impossible for you not to catch the spirit that will be building this summer in anticipation of the launch date for this new experience with The Story, which is in fact the same story many of us have heard all our lives. But won’t it be wonderful to know we are all learning and relearning the truths in His Word together? Won’t it be great to know we all will have the same firm foundation of knowledge of the power of His saving love?
I can’t wait to get started. This summer’s careful planning will ensure that we will be ready on September 15th. Already many of the components are finished, and others are in the works. The staff and congregational leaders are all working together towards a smooth, all-encompassing beginning in the fall that will carry us through to next May.
I pray you will give this all-congregational focus the best of your time and talents. It will bring us together even more powerfully for years to come. We need to speak as a church. And if we’re going to speak clearly we need to know The Story. It will prepare us with a solid core of understanding that allows us to continue to grow as individuals in our faith and as a congregation dedicated to reaching out to others.
In His service,