Worship Together. Grow Together. Serve TogetherGod never intended for us to walk this Christian life alone. Anyone who walks alone becomes easy prey. Instead, God has joined us to himself, calling us his family, and his even his body, (Gal 3:26, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4:1-16). We don't walk this Christian life alone. Christ walked it for us. Christ joins himself to us, and promises never to leave us as we walk our Christian lives. (2 Cor 5:21, Jn 15:5, Mt 28:20) Christ joins us to each other, to walk this Christian life together, (1 Cor 12, Eph 4:1-16). What we do is built around Jesus' promise to come to us, connect us to himself, and connect us to each other--and do all of this through his Means of Grace, Word and Sacrament.
Our Congregational Program:
We Worship Together. Young and old, from infants up to the elderly, we all gather for worship. Do the children really understand everything that is going on? Probably not, but they learn from seeing their parents and others worshiping the LORD. Then parents have the opportunity to talk to their kids about what we do together, and what God does for us in worship. (Eph 6:4, Mt 19:14, Ac 16:31-34)
Not just parents and children, but all of us benefit when we worship together. We know the power of hearing another person say things that build us up--"You are beautiful" is more powerful than "I am beautiful;" "I love you" is more powerful than "I am loved." God gives us those same kind of powerful statements in worship--"Your sins forgiven." "I care about your suffering." "I am with you always." He doesn't part the clouds to speak with his own voice, though. He uses us, as members of his body, people connected to him. He puts his Word in our mouths, to speak for him. He uses our hands to wash away sins in baptism. He uses our love, compassion, and forgiveness to show His love, compassion, and forgiveness. When we worship together, God draws us closer to himself and at the same time closer to each other. (2 Samuel 12:13, Mt 16:17-19, Mt 18:15-20, Lk 24:47, Jn 20:23, Ac 22:12-16)
We Grow Together. We have been called to be members of the body of Christ, supporting and encouraging each other in our Christian walk, just as Jesus supports and encourages us, (Col 3:16). But none of us is really "there" yet. We don't always know how to say what Jesus would want us to say. We don't love perfectly and unconditionally, like Jesus does--but we know we want to. We need to grow in our faith, so that we can represent God better in our families, in our congregation, and in our world. We need God's Word to make our faith grow, so we study together. We grow as we hear the Word taught by the class leader. We grow as we hear from the different life perspectives that our fellow church members bring. The bottom line is that when we study together, Jesus brings us all closer to himself. We leave church better prepared to shine "as lights in this dark world" for our families and neighbors, because he works in us to help us all become more closely connected to him. When a crises arises in our families or in our church, we are better prepared to respond with words and actions that come from the heart of God, (Jn 13:34)--the way Martin Luther put it, we are "little christs" to each other.
We Serve Together. The word that must be done to run a church is work that we do together. Caring for the sick and dying, reaching out to the lost, showing compassion to those in need--our members are encouraged to do these things both as individuals and also together through the church's organized efforts. Some of us are more naturally inclined to do that, while others need to be helped along in that way. When we serve together, we accomplish more. We encourage growth in those whose Christian life is weak in acts of service. We give opportunities for those gifted in Christian service to be leaders for the rest. When we serve together, we equip each other to be better imitators of Christ as we serve our families and our world. (Eph 4:1-16)