Indeed, if we raise funds for the creation of a community of love, we are helping God build the kingdom. We are doing exactly what we are supposed to do as Christians. Paul is clear about this: “Make love your aim.” – Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising.
As you wrote your check for the offering (or gave electronically), did you feel confident that your money would make a real impact on the world? This is an important question to ask ourselves whenever we consider an offering to any organization. If we give to a food bank, we want to know that there isn’t food lying in waste on its shelves. If we contribute to an arts organization, we want to know that the community will benefit through the work of local artists. If we contribute to an animal shelter, we want to know that it will result in more humane treatment for animals in need. But what about a church? What are our expectations when it comes to outcomes?
I think the question is answered in the quote above from Henri Nouwen. The outcome I am looking for is that we help God build the kingdom by creating a community of love. In other words, the church is a body of believers who actively pursue an understanding of what love is through the person of Jesus Christ and then go out to share the fruits of that understanding with the world (through mission work, prayer, evangelism, presence, advocacy, and more). Frankly, I think St. Andrew’s does a good job of this through our worship, adult education, special offerings, and local missions.
And yet, as we move into the future, I sense we are called to do more. I sense we are called to invite more people into our community where they can find what they need to go out to “love and serve the Lord.” How do we do this? By creating opportunities for spiritual nurture, organizing new mission opportunities, continuing with engaging adult education opportunities and then, most importantly, to invite people to join us. Advent is a wonderful time to invite friends to come to church. But, perhaps your friends and neighbors don’t really want to sit in a pew on Sunday morning. If so, invite them to help you prepare a dinner for Transition House, or maybe they might like a PW meeting, or maybe they would be interested in meeting you on campus in the afternoon for coffee and just sit and talk (the view here inspires spiritual reflection). We have many opportunities now, and God willing, we will have many more to come.
Enthused about the future!