Bearing Witness to Christ
Back in February or March of 2017 I participated in my first Vestry retreat here at Saint John's. I asked the Vestry at that time, “What is the mission statement of Saint John's?”
The short story is that nobody could say what the mission statement of the church was. So we did some work on that. With big yellow Post-It pads on the walls I asked them to brainstorm and call out anything and everything this parish did while I wrote it all down. After several minutes of this, I then asked them what they noticed about what had been written. As it turned out, all of those things we did could be categorized under four words – and that's where Worship, Welcome, Serve, and Encourage was born.
At the Vestry retreat this year we wanted to work with that and tweak it a bit. What came out of our discussions was a modified mission statement that still incorporated those original four words. That updated statement is this:
Saint John's Parish: Bearing witness to Christ wherever we may be.
We bear witness to Christ through our Worship
We bear witness to Christ by Welcoming people to be disciples with us
We bear witness to Christ by Serving God and others both inside and outside our walls
We bear witness to Christ by Encouraging others to learn, explore, and grow
One of the things I like about this updated statement is that it touches on every aspect of our lives. Are we bearing witness to Christ in our interactions with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc? Are we bearing witness to Christ within our parish walls as well as when we are on vacation? Are we bearing witness to Christ in our interactions with the stressed out customer service rep or the person behind the counter who was just yelled at because someone's lunch order was wrong? Are we bearing witness to Christ in our personal lives when nobody else is around to see us?
These and other instances remind us that our job is to bear witness to Christ at all times, in all ways, and in all places.
Bearing witness to Christ doesn't always (some might even say never) mean that we need to stand on the street corner with a big floppy bible yelling at people to repent. Bearing witness to Christ does, however, mean that we make worship a priority in our lives. It means we not only invite people to join us, but that we intentionally and purposefully welcome people who come through our doors. It means we need to serve God and others when and where needed. It means encouraging others in all aspects of their life. It means walking that narrow road that Jesus walked as we work to do justice, love kindness, and welcome the outsider.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, may you always strive to bear witness to Christ in all things.