"... evangelism is not a game of statistics. The great commission is not a numbers game. Jesus tells the disciples to “Go! And make disciples of all nations.” He does not say, “Go, and make members for your church,” nor does he say, “Go, and make people follow you.” Discipleship is something that we are very short on in the church. We are big on membership. Discipleship is different. Disciples are followers of Jesus, not necessarily members of the church. Disciples are those who continue the work that Jesus started. Disciples are those who realize that when Jesus fed the 5,000 he did not say, “You go and feed them so that we can see just how many people we can get to join our movement,” but instead simply said, “You feed them.” He called for us to feed them because they were hungry—period. And, if you remember the end of that particular story, the disciples were left not with droves of new disciples, but instead, with the clean-up (12 baskets worth of leftovers). It is not glorious work. Yet, it is the continuation of the work that Jesus started. Time after time Jesus would reach out to people, healing them, fulfilling their needs, only to find rejection. Disciples, followers of Jesus, will find the same thing.
And so, we worship, and we doubt. We doubt that we can stay true to the Great Commission without being caught-up in the numbers game. We doubt that we will be successful as a church because we are not seeing the statistical results we want to see. We doubt that we can actually be inspired to go, as Jesus called us to go, simply because we do not know how to be the church beyond Sunday morning or other times when we gather inside these walls.
Yet, the call is there—go, and make disciples. The call holds true, and steadfast, and does not change just because we have made the church more about numbers than mission. We, therefore, must be willing to go, and re-envision what it means to be the church. We must be inspired to make disciples—followers of Jesus—not church members that will fill our pews and make us feel more secure for the future."
--Excerpt from 6/15/14 Sermon, Pastor Jill V. Seagle
"The fear of dying has no place here, because we are not a people of death. No, we know something that this world has not yet embraced—death is not the end. For us, who proclaim our faith and insist that we are a Spirit-led God-filled people, death is but a new beginning. In truth, one cannot have new life without death. And, to that end, we need to kill our fears. We need to stop throwing things at our fears and instead, let them go, as Jesus encourages us to do. Fear would have caused the disciples to be unable to be healers as they went about their work. Fear would have caused the early church to never emerge from that upper room in Jerusalem. Fear would have caused Luther to recant before the Roman Catholic Church. Fear would have caused Bonhoeffer to stop proclaiming the truth about the church and Nazi domination. Fear would have caused Martin Luther King, Jr., to stop speaking and preaching against segregation. All of these people of faith had a right to fear death (and many of them did actually die for what they believed in). Yet, fear did not stop their proclamation, for they knew the grace of God and the power of the one who brought life even from death.
Why are we so afraid of dying, even as a church? We can name our fear, and we can face our fear. We can face our fear and we can leave it behind, because Jesus tells us that we do not need to be afraid. We can face our fear and realize that instead of being debilitated by it, God has empowered us to turn that fear into an opportunity to express our faith, to live the gospel, to simply be the beloved children of God and live, every day as those children. We have to realize that since God can take something even as bad as crucifixion and make it a source of life for the whole world, God can take our fears and move them from a way of death to a way of life. In the end, we may lose our life here, in this place, as we know it—but if we lose our life for the sake of the gospel, we will really have found life abundant in Christ Jesus our Lord."
--Excerpt from 6/22/14 Sermon, Pastor Jill V. Seagle
Heritage Worship 8:30AM
Fellowship: 9:30 AM
Crossover Contemporary Worship: 10:45 AM
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St. Thomas/Holy Spirit Lutheran Church
3980 S Lindbergh Blvd
Saint Louis, MO 63127