We will begin a new sermon series on Sunday entitled, “Who we are.” It will run for four weeks and will be focused on each of the “core values” that were identified in the mission study that was conducted during the interim period before I arrived to serve as pastor. I have shared these core values in the newsletter, but let me list them for you here as well.
- Worship & Music
- Community Service/Mission
- Congregational Care & Fellowship
As I read this list, I am struck at how each of these core values has the potential to be expressed in a different way. This list describes both who we are as a congregation, but it also describes what we do. One could say that this is a list of our core habits or our core practices. These are the things that we do, that in turn define our identity as a congregation.
A Methodist bishop, Robert Schanse, has written a very popular book that has been used widely by congregations in a wide range of denominations called, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” In this book he describes how he discovered that vital congregations shared five common practices. These practices are:
- Radical Hospitality
- Passionate Worship
- Intentional Faith Development
- Risk-taking Mission & Service
- Extravagant Generosity
I think you can see that Starmount’s list of core values matches up closely with the list described by Schanse. I also like Schanse’s use of descriptive words that are paired with each practice. Schanse argues that the use of these descriptive words, “move us from abstract intentions to practical and personal directions for ministry; and once our mission becomes practical and personal, it becomes memorable and achievable.”
I am sure that we feel as I do, that we here at Starmount certainly wish to have a mission that is memorable, a mission that is achievable, and a mission that makes a significant impact in the lives of those both inside and outside of our walls. I invite you to join us over the next four weeks as we explore the core of our identity here at Starmount and dream about where God may be calling us.