Two questions for congregations in the Christian Church in the Southwest (CCSW) to consider. Question 1 – Who is the Jesus people encounter when they encounter your congregation? What’s he like? What’s important to him?
Jesus’s life is complex and rich and full. He crossed boundaries. He fed the hungry. He taught about God’s work in the world. He healed. He called. He blessed. He died and rose again. He ascended. He lives and encounters us. Beyond the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, book after book has been written about Jesus. It would be easy for us to join the hymn-writer and say, “What more can be said than to you he has said?” Still, I would like to ask the question. I’m not suggesting an exhaustive answer but a reflective one. Who is the Jesus people encounter in you? When people come in contact with your congregation, what’s the Jesus they meet there like?
Question 2 – What does a person’s life start to look like whenever people decide to follow Jesus within your congregation?
I read a book in High School entitled, The Normal Christian Life. I don’t remember much about the content of the book. I remember the concept that it might be possible to describe what the “normal” Christian life might look like. Hopefully there’s a clear connection between the way you talk about Jesus and the way you invite people to follow Jesus. How your congregation describes Jesus and the stories you emphasize about him will shape the way people follow him.
Over the next year – or longer – I would like to ask congregations within the Southwest Region to have congregation-wide conversations around these two questions. I imagine that conversation will different from congregation to congregation. If it were me, I’d organize home meetings with small groups gathering together over food. People would covenant to pray together, listen to each other, express one thing but give each other permission to revise the next week. But, that’s just me. The last thing we need is a one-size fits all approach to congregations. I hope you’ll take time to drop me a line if you decide to engage this conversation. Let me know how it’s working for you – how you’re engaging the questions. Let me know what you come up with. I’d like to share your thoughts with the rest of the region and share the region’s thoughts with you.
Andy Mangum, MDiv, DMin
Christian Church in the Southwest