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Mount Olivet has a unique identity and sense of mission as well as a particular hope for the future. This has become clearer over the past four years as we have engaged in a process called Partnership for Missional Church. It is time to assess what we've learned, so we can confidently move forward. But identity, mission and vision do not happen in a void. We are wrestling with certain questions and realities that the world gives to us. The following are six key questions that shape our understanding of ourselves. How do we go about answering them?
Where can we find a life-giving narrative that gives us a solid center in this world?
As churches move further and further to the periphery of our communities, a moral and spiritual void grows. Multiple narratives promise to fill the void: social, political, and market ideologies; the promise of technological and scientific progress; the exhilaration of the information age; personal achievement and status climbing. While none of these options have provided the center that people and communities need, Jesus’ story is just that center. Yet all of us feel the constant pull of the other scripts!
How can we connect in community in a culture of disconnect?
As participants in a world of exponential choices, information, and distraction, we often feel paralyzed, fragmented and alone. It is the irony of our age that we have more options for connecting with each other than ever before but are as disconnected, and sometimes lonelier, than ever. An increasing number of people simply lack the grounding experience of a community gathered around something that matters – something like Christian community.
How can we experience a relationship with the living God at work in the world?
As countless individuals struggle to find meaning and an experience of God, many assume Christian faith is either a body of knowledge or a moral test. It is not. A living and gracious God is among us, inviting us into relationship with him as we journey through life. This is a God needed by those who suffer and struggle (which is everyone!). God’s Word is not merely printed on a page. This Word is alive!
How can we reclaim the sacredness of a world we assume is already lost?
When we look around us, we assume the sacredness of God has no place in a world as compromised, fallen and profane as ours. But God made this world and is at work in it, which means sacred ground can be found anywhere. That God shows up in the most unlikely places and people is an invitation to pay attention and be ready to connect.
How can we celebrate and embrace the rich diversity of the world that God created?
As we find ourselves living in an increasingly diverse world with endless possibilities for partnership, far too many assume the worst in their neighbor and adopt an us/them way of looking at the world. Since God created our world and blessed it with diversity, we know that God is at work through and in diversity.
How can we as God’s people be more than mere consumers and make a difference in the world?
As the chasm between culture and church grows, faith communities struggle with how to find their footing again. Living in a consumer culture, many congregations adopt a consumer-driven model of faith, dependent on a product that church professionals produce, while others hope we’ll magically return to 1950. In the meantime, God is at work in the world doing a new thing and looking for people who want to partner with God to make a difference. Do you want to be a part of this movement in the world?
How do you resonate with these questions? Do you think they seem relevant to what you know about our world and Mount Olivet? Please respond and let me know if you think these six considerations point us in the right direction!
God's peace, Pastor John
Watch a video of Pastor John's presentation in worship on Sunday, May 31:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i30NOvu4W04&w=560&h=315]