ST. PAUL'S VISION STATEMENT: ENGAGE by Pastor Doug
Updated: May 14, 2020
We will foster leadership development, doubling the number of our leaders equipped to train and mentor us in spiritual transformation. Thus, as maturing disciples we will widen our circle of friendships among all generations in our Northeast Heights neighborhoods. A revived St. Paul's will discover innovative strategies of the Holy Spirit to engage multiple venues for mission. We will "move into the neighborhood" (John 1:14) and share not only the gospel, but our personal lives as well.
As we move into the execution of our Vision in 2020, one of our two primary dynamics of our congregation is that we prioritize our commitment to ENGAGE our community, our neighborhoods. Our mission is not just about us and our connections to each other, it is also about the transformation of lives in our community, indeed, the whole world.
In January we have been looking at the "defining fingerprint" of St. Paul's:
ST. PAUL'S, a family for those seeking to make a breakthrough journey to a deeper relationship with Christ and one another.
FAMILY - more than anything else we have been and desire to become even more, a FAMILY. We have rooted our understanding of family in Ephesians 2:19-22. In this brief passage, Paul casts the vision for the church in Ephesus around 3 metaphors: Nation (they are a New Israel), Home (a new Family), and then... Temple (a new Temple).
When Paul describes them as Temple he redefines the image of temple as unique to the edifice in Jerusalem, soon to be destroyed at Rome's hands. He images this new Temple as one whose stones are the people of Christian congregations. We are the stones of the Temple, "joined together" by the Cornerstone, Jesus. In this image, we are the unfinished stones being sculpted such that we rise up into a temple that is marked not by stony edifice, a kind of spiritual fortress. Rather, we are "pieced together" as we are sculpted in our fit with Christ and one another by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our engagement of our neighborhoods should resemble a “road of mission", not limiting our outreach to moments of contact, but developing a journey with each other's lives.
The result of this "spiritual sculpting" is a temple that is more organic than the distant Jerusalem edifice. Its organic nature harkens the temple concept back toward the original expression of the "tent of meeting", the Tabernacle, of the wilderness Exodus origins of Israel. This tabernacle was not a static edifice in Jerusalem, but a dynamic, humble worship center, "meeting place" that was circuited across Israel's towns and villages - the "meeting place" went out to where the people were. The point of the tabernacle was not its humble physical accouterments, but the Presence of God, filled of Holy Spirit, that made the tabernacle a Dwelling, a home if you will!, where Yahweh and his family, Israel, could meet together.
Paul, in his procession of metaphors for the church in Ephesians 2 suddenly makes a spirituality of organic, Spirit filled community that becomes the intersection of Jesus and Life. The church becomes: "... a holy temple built by god, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at HOME. That's us! An organic meeting place, a home, a FAMILY where Jesus and the Northeast Heights can find Intersection.
By engaging in extended connection rooted in developing relationships we will become more than a teaching center, we will become a training center - a place, a fellowship that not only defines the gospel, but learns how to practice the new life of Jesus.
This helps us understand our ENGAGE vision:
We will "move into the neighborhood" (John 1:14) and share not only the gospel, but our personal lives as well. Jesus moved into the neighborhood when he journeyed from heaven and "tabernacles"2 among us. Jesus becomes the intersection between God and our World. He fashions us to become that tabernacle, that dwelling, that home, that FAMILY of God's meeting between Jesus and the World - namely, our Northeast Heights neighborhood.
Now, this understanding shapes the How, the methods, of how we should ENGAGE our neighborhoods.
Our methods should be organic, not institutional.
Therefore, they should feature Relationships, "shared life experiences." Our congregation must be sure that we move deeper than "teaching center" and create venues of learning and shared life experiences: protracted conversations, shared journeys of laughing and weeping both, a sharing of burdens, and supportive fellowship.
Life to life sharing is the basic building block of Transformation. We will ENGAGE our neighborhoods for the purpose of discovering, developing, and practicing the relationships necessary for this.
Thus, this engagement will feature the following practices:
Move into the neighborhood: we must go where the people are, whether they will come to our building or not.
This will be a process, not an event.
Our engagement of our neighborhoods should resemble a “road of mission", not limiting our outreach to moments of contact, but developing a journey with each other's lives. By engaging in extended connection rooted in developing relationships we will become more than a teaching center, we will become a training center - a place, a fellowship that not only defines the gospel, but learns how to practice the new life of Jesus.
It is only when our neighbors are practicing the New Life of Jesus that their lives are transformed. And, the only way to learn to practice life is by sharing life with another person who is also seeking to practice this new of being.
We must begin now to practice a spirituality that is organic family, protracted sharing of life such that we are trained to live the New Life of Jesus.
This ENGAGE ministry must foster the development of spiritual leaders who will model and lead teams of St. Paul in the execution of our ENGAGE vision.