“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus …” Acts 20:24a (NLT)
Do you remember the story of the little engine that could? The story was first published by that title in 1920. It’s a story of determination and a story of belief. If you know the story you know the little engine that could had a purpose, a passion, and faith. The little engine that could had the purpose of pulling all the train cars up the hill. The little engine’s passion was to complete the mission and show everyone that this unlikely little engine could do the job. The little engine also had to have faith to accomplish the purpose before it. It has remained a story that inspires kids and adults alike because of the hope the story gives us all.
I see the work of the church in a similar way. The church is a community of believers with a common purpose, a common passion, and the faith necessary to accomplish it all. I also believe that, in the words of Bill Hybels, the local church is the hope of the world. There is no other entity that is designed and empowered to carry out the purpose of Christ in the world. Christ knew this when he told Peter, “…and upon this the rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” The purpose of the church is to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the word. The Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples is what The United Methodist Church claims as their mission, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The people of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church are a community of faith that lives out our mission as a local church within this greater mission. Our particular mission statement is to lead people to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with God. This is our common purpose. It is what we focus on as we work our way up the hill. We focus on this mission for two main reasons. First, we believe that God is revealed to the world around us through acts of grace. The Wesleyan Way of Salvation is centered on God’s grace toward all of humanity. So we focus on making sure that the people we serve experience God’s grace through our work together as a church. Second, we believe that God’s grace is given to us through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Whether someone is a nonbeliever or a long-time believer, we see our mission as helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our passion as a community of faith is to stay on mission. To help people experience God’s grace and to grow in Christ. We are unwavering in our focus on this mission. We are clear on what God has called us to do and to be. We are people of grace who are growing in Christ. Because of our mission and our passion to pursue it, we have the faith that God will be faithful to help us accomplish it. God equips those whom God calls. We place our faith in the God who provided dry land for the Israelites to escape Egypt, who provided victory for David over a giant, who provided a small army to defeat the stronghold of Jericho, who provided healing for the sick and sight for the blind, who raised Jesus to life, and who provides us with new life through Christ. We have faith that God will provide for our every need as well.
This Sunday we will begin a new message series entitled “Love Does.” This series will be about our Mission and Vision at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church. The series will help us remember and seek after our purpose, passion, and faith. I look forward to sharing more about this with you in worship this week. I can’t wait to see you in church!