Church Makes Declaration

Every time we make a move, every time we make a decision, every time we gather, every time we speak and every time we are silent…

We are constantly declaring what we actually believe it means to be disciples who follow Jesus and gather as a church. Every day, all the time, 24/7, we are demonstrating what the good news of the gospel looks like in flesh and blood. The sum total of our actions, inactions, attitudes, espoused beliefs, organizational processes, and even property management are our declaration of discipleship and church. It’s like in everything we do, we are saying to God, “Here, O God, is our best effort at being your disciples and being church together.” At the same time, we are making a very similar statement to the world around us. “Here is our understanding of what it means to be salt and light in the spirit of Jesus Christ on this planet at this point in history.”

On the one hand, readers may be thinking this is so obvious it’s not worth stating. While the other hand reminds us that we Christ-followers often move through our days as if we have no awareness we are being the church in everything we do. So, given the world in which we live, it’s time to raise our awareness about our identities and calling. The Jesus-shaped church can no longer ignore or neglect our calling and expect to be remotely relevant to our cultural milieu. A highly aware Church is dramatically needed.

One would think that Christian disciples would move through life with such a high awareness of their role (salt and light) in God’s mission….yet looking back, many of us are aware of our neglect around our callings. It’s like we develop spiritual Alzheimer’s; forgetting who we are and what we are about as we move through our days. Looking back at the recent election season is a great way to raise our awareness about our Christ-following. The way we interacted with others, the way we engaged our communities, our action and inaction, our social media posts, our church communications…all this was our statement to the world about what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ and God’s Church during a contentious election cycle. There is a time to stand for justice, using holy indignation to affect change. There is no time for hatred, resentment, bitterness, and toxicity toward others in this human family. Looking back, how well did we demonstrate what it looks like to be disciples who are the church? Thank God for grace which redeems and then pushes us out the door to try again.

Here’s the beauty of what increased awareness of our role in Christ’s calling does – we are inspired to rise to the occasion. Does this world need more people motivated by love, seeking the common good? Where are the communities of people who care about each other so much they can tolerate different political opinions and remain in community with each other? Where are the churches who are shining examples of community in a world where community break-down is the norm? Raised awareness about our identities and role in God’s movement positions us to actually be salt and light.

So, here’s a practical application. As you begin your next lay leadership team, committee, ministry team, or staff meeting, pause….Declare to yourselves that what you about to do is declare and demonstrate what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Remind yourselves that your collective activity, decisions, and outcomes from this particular meeting are your statement to the world about what it means to be church. In so doing, business as usual would be far less probable or even possible. Salt and light…May we as God’s people, rise up and be who we are called to be.

Mark Tidsworth, PLA President