Many months ago, JF Lacaria, our conference Director of Leadership Formation and Ministry Support, wrote a column for the WVUM newspaper which discussed the idea of "so that." Why do we do the ministry that we do? "So that..." It's a phrase that has woven its way into committee meetings, Emmaus talks, prayers and sermons galore, spoken by me, by Steve, by JtM... That phrase has had an effect on all of us.
I've gotten so I say, "What's the 'so that' of what we are doing. Sometimes people look at me funny, but I still say it. I underline the phrase in bible passages. Steve used it in one of his Emmaus talks. I think JtM sneaks it into prayers and sermons, hiding it.
I was reading something today or yesterday. I found the phrase "so now." I stopped and read it again. I even wrote it down. I think it has the potential of being another important phrase in ministry. "So now..." What is the next step?
So often we notice a problem. We define it, we analyze it, we share our thoughts about it. What we don't often do is follow through. "We have this problem in our church, so now we will..."
What is the "so now" action?
I was presenting an Annual Conference report to a Sunday school class this past Sunday. I shared with them the statistic that 60% of the churches in our conference have not had a member join through profession of faith in the past year. Our church is not one of the 60%, but we aren't much above that mark. A person in the class asked if our committees were talking about that problem.
I explained that members were talking about that in committee meetings. The "so now" is bigger than that, though. There are several "so now" actions that I discussed with them.
- Our conference is having an Evangelism school called Commission Possible. I was encouraging them to attend. So now, learn about what to do about it -- so now learn about evangelism.
- I explained that we ARE the congregation of the church. It is up to me, and to each of them to change the way we operate. If we are going to "bring people to Christ" (which is a phrase from our church's new Mission Statement) then each of us needs to take steps to do that. We know the problem, SO NOW we EACH need to take steps to answer the call
- People come to our church by being born into it, or by being invited to it. The class I was speaking to is mainly retired people -- no babies here -- so now, invite people to come to know Christ.