The heartbeat of our church has always been in how we love and care for one another. Many of us have called NUMA our home for nearly 10 years, and there is a reason for that. Our concern has never been to grow our church in numbers, but it has been to grow in the authenticity of our relationships with God and one another in everything we do. 242 nights, small groups, Sunday worship, and gatherings are all meant to foster spaces of genuine friendship.
This upcoming season is a crucial one. Our church is experiencing the rumblings of new life in more ways than one. New babies are being born, and more of us are getting married. Others have taken on new jobs and responsibilities that are equally worth celebrating. Our community looks different from what it once did. We have sparks of a new future, and so much of the world around us is changing, as are we.
"Disciples making disciples" has always been the descriptive measure of our church community, and we are creating opportunities to expand our capacity to include others."
With that growth comes new possibilities for us as a church community. Our move towards community organizing seeks to do more than add another optional program to our church. This move aims to fulfill our church's mission statement more purposefully. "Disciples making disciples" has always been the descriptive measure of our church community, and we are creating opportunities to expand our capacity to include others. We are opening ourselves to new possibilities, friendships, and partnerships. It also means experiencing new levels of vulnerability.
It will be a beautiful, messy, and at times, painful journey as we answer the call to love our neighbors. It may be an easy call to answer at first, but the journey ahead is long, and we will need one another's love and care more than ever to carry us through. We will need to bear one another burdens, as written in Galatians 6:2. The call to love one's neighbor will open up new questions about our faith that we may not have faced before.
"We will have unanswered questions, but our capacity to hold the mystery of Christ will inevitably expand."
The presence of tension will accompany us on our journey as it will invite us to sit with our limitations. Our inability to fix an overwhelmingly broken system will drive us to our knees. We will wonder where God is in a situation or why we cannot find him in silence. We will have unanswered questions, but our capacity to hold the mystery of Christ will inevitably expand. Our biases, assumptions, and belief systems will be put to the fire. When faced with the choice to fall under the trap of fundamentalism or into the arms of grace, let us encourage one another to fall into grace.
"There is a cost to discipleship, including loving our neighbors."
There is a cost to discipleship, including loving our neighbors. And we will discover its immeasurable worth together. As we re-arrange our hearts as a church community, let us pray that our capacity to love will expand. The love we have built and the friendships we have forged will sustain us and begin to include those who do not look like us or live like us, but share the same Mother and Father God who uniquely crafted each soul in this beautiful, messy world. May we be humble enough to listen, have a posture of learning together, and find God in the dignity of each person we encounter. May our next season craft us into a church with a more profound sense of empathy, humility, compassion, and love for those around us. Jesus, be our North Star.