A MOMENT FOR MISSION
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14, NRSV
"A single person can sing a church hymn," wrote Rod Stetzer in The Chippewa (Wis.) Herald (Dec. 2, 2011). "But a choir singing the same hymn gives it power."
The Community Mission Coalition, an alliance of 14 area congregations, is using that philosophy to reach out to the neighborhood. Two United Methodist churches — Trinity and Zion — are involved.
Tom Drehmel, minister of discipleship living at Central Lutheran Church, said he read an article in the city newspaper about another congregation's teen program. He contacted the youth and outreach minister at the other church, and Central Lutheran provided 30 volunteers.
Later, youth in the two congregations collected more than 20,000 jars of peanut butter to send to the people of Haiti.
That planted the seed for the Community Mission Coalition, in operation since summer 2011. Participants contact service organizations in the community and ask what they need. Then they try to respond. They have gathered diapers, laundry detergent, used eyeglasses and shoes.
Working with existing ministries prevents duplication of efforts. Children, youth and adults are involved.
"It's driven by lay people," Drehmel noted.
Today is Ecumenical Sunday, and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Jan. 18-25. Both celebrate interfaith partnerships that link Christians and strengthen Christian unity through prayer and outreach. The Community Mission Coalition is a perfect illustration of the work God calls us to do together.
Generous God, as we "fish for people," open our minds and hearts to new ideas and ways of doing things so that your church may continue to flourish. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday after the Epiphany - Gracious God, in wisdom you provide every gift needed to build up the church. You continually guide the church in every place by your Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Christ. During this week of prayer for Christian unity, help us to recognize each denomination as a genuine witness to the wholeness of Christ's body. In gratitude, we offer our spiritual and financial gifts to support the ministry and mission of this congregation. Through Christ, we pray. Amen. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)
From sharing food pantries and housing people in transition to helping job hunters and feeding schoolchildren, congregations of many faiths combine their talents to do amazing things.
It takes you back 2,000 years to Luke's description of the early church in Acts 2:44-45, NRSV. "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."
Are you lacking children or teachers for vacation Bible school? Check with the little Presbyterian church down the street. They might welcome the opportunity to work jointly with your congregation.
Do you wonder how to start an intergenerational ministry? Ask the Lutheran church in your neighborhood its secrets to success. See if your members can work with — and learn from — them.
Sure, our doctrines are not identical. However, our similarities far outweigh our differences, and people of all ages benefit in the process.
What a wonderful way to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!