Throughout these first few months in my first call, I've learned much about church life, about the role of the pastor, and about the wonderful people that make up Christ Lutheran Church. Our community is incredibly close. We share a familial intimacy for which I'm deeply thankful. Recently, our numbers have been growing.
The surprising part of this development is that this growth is not connected to any sort of membership drive or evangelism effort. Some who've joined retain some kind of connection to the church as former attendees or relatives of current comrades. Others showed up as new worshippers looking for a faith community and chose to become a part of ours.
When these new friends talk about why they decided to become a consistent part of life at CLC, each mentions something about our outreach ministries, even though most are not direct recipients of such ministries. In particular, people mention the establishment of a new campus ministry at Radford University called Highlander Lutherans and the vision for a new ministry for people of all intellectual, social, and physical abilities called Across the Spectrum.
Part of what this indicates is that people are inspired to serve in a church that is serving selflessly. Campus ministry is tons of fun and can inspire new life in a community, but it also represents a transient population, most of whom often depart after a few years. Across the Spectrum seeks to meet the needs of an unmet population within the New River Valley, but a key part of that mission includes support of people already part of other congregations. In other words, these ministries in themselves aren't huge growth opportunities for membership.
Yet, as others see these kind of commitments, they've decided to come live life alongside the people of CLC. Church life, at its best, is about service in the image of Christ, the ultimate selfless servant. Through the development of two ministries at the heart of this congregation's passions, others have glimpsed Jesus in an infections way, such that they too want to be a part of this movement of outreach, service, and mission.
Sometimes, there's no paradigm for growth other than the movement of the Holy Spirit in and through the life of the church. Thank God for that!
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.