From Pastor Dave Dockweiler
Blessings my friends,
Just after Jesus chooses his disciples, he instructs them to follow. They leave behind their jobs and family connections; they leave behind what they know and embark on a journey without knowing where they are headed or what they will be doing. Scripture tells us that “along the way” they learned, they tried out new skills, they had lesson after lesson “on the road.” We are now shifting from our regular school year schedule to our summer schedule which includes two mission trips. By the time you read this I have left and (hopefully returned) from Guatemala and getting ready for a high school trip to Maryland. Leaving our homes, families and what we know, we set out for a journey to see Jesus. Along our way, we will learn about each other, we will hear stories about how each person has connected with God and without a doubt, “on the road” we will grow closer to God.
I love ministry that involves a suitcase. Every once in a while we need to get out of our comfort zone, leave behind how we usually live and experience life as others do. Thank you, for helping these ministry moments happen. They cannot be done without our home communities support. Many in the church are not joining us in the van and on the plane, but I assure you, you are with us. We will be praying for you and I thank you for your prayers for us. Our community benefits from a few folks stepping out in faith to see where God leads us and feeling how God leads us. This will be my 6th trip to Guatemala and I have lost count on the number of high school Workcamp trips I have participated in. Throughout every single trip, I have seen God in a new way. I have changed during these trips, and the way that I connect with God and others has changed over time. During my first trip to San Lucas Toliman, I was a seminary student. My first Workcamp trip was in 1994. Times have changed and with every ticket purchased I am blessed with a new vision of what God is doing, what God has created and who God is calling us towards.
Thank you again for your support of these trips, for your prayers and all the ways that you step out in faith!
Our New Mission Statement
We have a new mission statement. “Inspiring change by following Jesus.” Our church council members have been working at this for a couple of months. I am so proud of the collaborative effort. We prayed about what God is doing through this place, we debated, and revised. I am so happy with the final product. “Inspiring change by following Jesus” is why this place exists, why this community meets and what we are set on doing.
INSPIRING The angels inspired the shepherds to run to see the new born Jesus, the Spirit inspired the disciples to march with purpose out of the upper room where they were hiding after the death of Jesus and throughout the ages people have been inspired to share their faith with others. Through this inspiration people have been moved with compassion and it is the fuel that moves the church. “Inspiring” also is a means of how we are to function. We don’t use fear to scare others into faith (we know that doesn’t work) we show them what God has done in our lives and we invite them to wonder about what God can do in theirs. Being inspired to do something new is invitational, just like Jesus.
CHANGE Something is out-of-whack in our world, in our communities and within ourselves. One of the founders of the church, the Apostle Paul, wrote that he doesn’t understand what he does, and he does the stuff he hates. Change is hard, it takes time and tons of effort to redirect our efforts at times. We read countless stories in the Bible of Jesus meeting people in the most random places of their lives and offering them something far better. Physical, spiritual and mental healing, reconnecting someone with their community, lifting those that have been ostracized by others-Jesus brings change and we welcome God’s changes in our lives.
BY Here is how this inspired change is going to happen. Spoiler alert, it isn’t because of what we do.
FOLLOWING Jesus asks his disciples to leave their comfort zones. They walked away from jobs, family, friends, a life that they knew-to follow Jesus into one where they didn’t know much, except for the Rabbi. “Following” admits that we don’t know exactly where we are headed or how to get there. It is an act of humble worship and great trust to allow Jesus to lead our community and our lives.
JESUS Our leader, our rabbi, the one who has come into our lives and invited us into something greater. God’s dreams are better then our own, God’s vision for our lives is far more colorful and fun than we could imagine, so come join us in following our amazing God into a world we hardly knew existed.
Well that’s all good and nice, but how do we actually do it? There are three values that we uplift which will make our missional goal a reality.
First, we “worship to deepen our connections.” Using the cross itself as an example, we worship to connect with God (the vertical) and we worship alongside each other to connect with one another (the horizontal). If our worship doesn’t bring us closer to God or others, than we are doing something wrong.
Secondly, we value “education to challenge our understanding of God.” Growth always means some level of discomfort, and we welcome the challenge of seeing God in new ways. We need to push ourselves to see God in places and faces that we would have overlooked without becoming aware.
Lastly, we do what Jesus did. “Service with others to change the world.” Jesus often brought people into his miracles to change the world around them. Changing the world is a big job but doing so means that we begin with God changing our world. We invite God into our lives to give us a glimpse of what God is up to, and what we are being invited into and we join together to get to work making God’s kingdom show up on earth.