An important part of my work is to help people grow in their experience, understanding, and expression of faith in Christ. So, while I love the action and impact of mission, a vital part of the equation is the worship, study, and renewal that occurs which allows me to be active in mission. Make sense? I just wouldn't get into the adventures I get into, or be able to sustain such activity, except that I have this profound sense that I've got to continue to follow Christ.
Mission as one "program" of the church or denomination, too separated from the rest of the Christian walk, makes for weaker mission and a weaker Christian and Church. Over the last few years I've found a richer experience as worship, discipleship, evangelism, mission, fellowship, prayer, etc. all interact and engage each other.
And just as I need "rest" from the crazy activity and happenings of a week, I find I'm more and more drawn to sabbath, to sanctuary, to a present salvation which inspires, and challenges, and encourages. Who doesn't want that?! Thus, Sunday worship and small group time are vital elements of my faith which sustain me.
But I realize that not everyone has this. Not everyone has a church family, a community of faith, or a circle of friends who are with them through thick and thin. While such a person may pray, may read Scripture, may sing the songs of faith, they may also have had a bad church experience or awful life experience, that has shaken them to their core. Add to this that sadly, too often a church can be too exclusive, too much like a social club, and create barriers & walls which are tougher to cross than getting through a nation's border!
Part of the wonderful joy in the life of the Christian and Church is to help create "bridges" so that people can connect with the family of faith, become active in the life of a church, and grow stronger in Christ through this sort of full experience of faith. Said plainly, it is a great challenge and a great joy to help people who aren't involved in church find their place, and in fact their family and home, in the life of the church. This is tough, but immensely satisfying work as we might stand as guides in the pilgrim trail of life always on the lookout to lend a helping hand to the weary soul seeking a band of friends and their spiritual home.
On Sundays I offer a Discovery Class during the Sunday School hour. We try to be such an oasis, such a bridge, that helps folk in their journey. We've got a mix of long time church members and people new to the church. My goal is that the discussion and fellowship be about "real life and real faith." Sometimes we talk about missions. Sometimes we talk about the local community or challenges in our town or family. During the next couple of months we'll be considering who Jesus is as we look at the Gospel of John. This study might reveal a Jesus that's much more than you've seen or heard before. If you are in Augusta, whether you are struggling with life & faith or just need some encouragement or are looking for some friends, I hope you'll spend some time with our group.