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Conversions & Baptisms

Dreaming a Bit…

About a year ago, together we clarified what we thought we should be aiming for as a church over the next 5-10 years (and possibly longer). We envisioned a future for our church that includes our community (or parish neighborhood); mainly, that they would no longer be able to ignore the Lord Jesus. How do we see THAT through? Then, we decided that our mission would be to establish redemptive presence. In other words, we need Christians actually living in our mission “field”. Now, I have a question that will make you squint…

What would accomplishing our mission look like?

Conversions & Baptisms.

Our mission as a church really is no different than the one Jesus originally gave to his disciples. If he didn’t think it would work or that the ability to carry it out wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have given it. BOTTOM LINE: Making disciples and maturing them IS the main work of an obedient  church.

We may get excited if someone from Sacramento transfers their membership to our church! Or, maybe a struggling church votes to merge into ours— cool! But those aren’t as good as faithfully  doing the work of loving our neighbors by sharing the good news with them and trusting what God does with that over time. Conversion is the human response to God’s gospel call of grace. It’s what Jesus simply stated: “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). We can’t force anyone to do this. It’s a supernatural, internal work of the Holy Spirit. Then, once that person realizes what God did to them, they naturally go public with their faith by baptism.

Numbers aren’t everything… We can’t gauge our success (or “apparent” lack of it) by what we see. But, God does talk about growth or “increase” in the New Testament. It is spiritual, and often it is imperceptible. We’ll know we’re accomplishing our mission as precious neighbors convert and get baptized. If we aren’t at least trying to spread the good news of Jesus to our parish neighborhood, we will have failed. But, if we are trying to be faithful witnesses as those in the book of Acts without much visible fruit, that’s ok. That’s just one part of the Mission “pie”. Stay hungry for more...

Posted by Will Pareja with

Reformation Rubber

Well, it’s that time of the year to give the token shout out to our faith ancestors for protesting the status quo and religious error. Tuesday is Reformation Day, and it is the 500th Anniversary!

As we’ve said in the past around here, the Reformation didn’t invent really anything new. It uncovered the genuine Apostolic faith authorized by our Lord Jesus. Do you remember the 5 Solas of the Reformation?

  • Scripture Alone
  • Christ Alone
  • Grace Alone
  • Faith Alone
  • To the Glory of God Alone!

Our church is right to focus on these. They hold together and explain our faith well. But, the Reformation isn’t just a religious party around a bunch of smart, dead guys in robes and funky hats. The Protestant Reformation gave us some serious rubber to tread the rocky road of life. We have no future salvation without a right understanding of the Gospel. But, we also have serious difficulty without a right understanding of our vocations and that our jobs matter.

The Reformation gave us a “work ethic.” It rightly broke down the “secular-sacred divide.” “What is that?,” you may ask? It’s the notion that Sunday church is distinct from Monday-Friday work; or, more sinister, that being a “full-time” Christian “man of the cloth” is more significant than the “other kinds” of work out there (blue, white or no collars). Dorothy Sayers, the famous English writer, once countered that misleading distinction saying: “The only ‘Christian’ work is work well done.” To consider that God alone should get the glory for everything breathed new life in ALL that we do. While Sunday worship indeed is vital to being a Christian, it is a part of what we do week-to-week. The Reformation ideal of God’s glory injected meaning into what it means to be a spouse, an employee, a child, a parent— a neighbor. While the Reformation relentlessly clarified the role of works for eternal salvation, it didn’t render our “works” useless or unimportant. Martin Luther famously quipped: “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.”

Happy Reformation Day! Now go out there, rock the rubber of a durable, God-sized work ethic to your job, and do good work this week for God’s glory! S.D.G.

Posted by Will Pareja with