Experiencing and Sharing the Love of Jesus Christ
Our family will be a refuge for those struggling with the impact of sin on our world including hatred, depression, division, lack of money, illness, and weariness. By daily covering the broken hearted with the blood of Jesus Christ, we will be God’s instruments to overcome that which divides generations, marriages, churches, races and communities so that we can be one. Not only will we accomplish this through the day to day work of the church but we will establish a distinct family life center, led by a called worker, to share God’s love with the community through Bible oriented education and vocation programs. We will multiply our ability to share the love of Jesus Christ by breathing new life into old ministries and planting new ministries. As the Spirit accomplishes this work in our midst we will be a community of believers growing closer to God and full of hope as we await our promised inheritance. This is God’s vision for St. John’s Lutheran Church and we are passionate about living it.
Our plan for making this vision a reality is captured by the following three Strategic Focus Objectives (SFO's). Each group within our family is committed to working towards the accomplishment of these long range objectives. We will gauge our progress by establishing and measuring goals each year.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20
Jesus told us to make disciples. God is at work in the water of Holy Baptism and the proclamation of God's Word to make followers of Jesus Christ. Then God continues to work through our baptism, the Lord's Supper and His Word to keep us in the faith. We share those gifts with people so that they continue to grow as disciples of Christ throughout their whole lives. As we grow as disciples of Christ God accomplishes His work in our midst!
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." 1 Peter 4:10
A steward is a manager of someone else's property. We are all stewards of God's gifts. Everything we have is a gift from the Lord including the forgiveness we cherish, the time we enjoy, the various talents we have, all of our earthly possessions we possess and eternal life. That's why the apostle Paul asks, "What do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) We're all stewards. The only question is what kind of steward are we? Good stewards use the gifts that God has given them for the glory of God and the benefit of their neighbors.
This isn't easy because our human nature is self-centered. But as we grow in faith in Jesus Christ God changes our focus so that we can "submit to one another our of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:21) So that we can put the needs of others ahead of our own. God has given to His church all of the gifts that we need to accomplish His work in our community. We are committed to growing as stewards of God's gifts so that our people use all of their gifts to glorify the Lord and bless their neighbors.
As we grow as stewards of God's gifts more and more of these gifts are used for the accomplishment of God's work in our midst and this vision becomes a reality.
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and the my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2
God has always been a refuge for His people. Jesus came to be a refuge. Jesus came so that we could find refuge in him. Listen to his words, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29) Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because they will not accept his refuge. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37)
The blood of Jesus Christ shed for the forgiveness of sins offers us refuge from Satan's accusing finger so that we can live as beloved children of God. So that we can live abundantly as Jesus says. (John 10:10) We rejoice to share that abundant life that Jesus gave us with our neighbors. We rejoice to be a refuge for our neighbors.
We do that by pointing our neighbors to Jesus Christ all the time. That is our goal because Jesus Christ is the only source of refuge that will last into eternity. We point our neighbors to Jesus Christ because the Word of God that created the universe can heal our broken marriages, broken families and broken communities.
So we will keep looking for new ways to be a refuge to our neighbors. We have done this for several years by delivering a meal to our neighbors on Thanksgiving. The first year we thought we would try to feed 500 people. God made it look easy by bringing volunteers throughout the community together to do it. This past year over 800 neighbors were fed. God made it look easy by using over 70 different community organizations and hundreds of volunteers!
We want to be a refuge to those in need of food and shelter. We want to be a refuge to those who need healing in their family or marriage. We want to be a refuge to those struggling with sin and guilt. As we offer refuge to our neighbors we will come to better understand the refuge that is ours in Christ today and in eternity and God's vision for us becomes a reality.