As members of the congregation, we're sent into the community to serve those in need and to make our community more loving and just. We believe that the Holy Spirit empowers and guides us in our ministries and that wherever there's need and suffering, we meet Christ, already at work. But still, we cannot be effective in ministry on our own. So the congregation exists, in part, to surround and support each member in his or her ministry. We do not always succeed in our efforts to be faithful disciples in the world. But with the loving support of the community of faith, we can continue to grow.
We are all called to ministerThough our gifts vary widely, we're all called to and engaged in the one ministry of Jesus Christ. Some aspects of our ministry are easy and come naturally. Some are difficult, involving long hours, tough work, perhaps conflict, perhaps with disappointing results. What drives us? What keeps us going? The list includes at least these three things:
- the memory of Jesus' life of service to others, which inspires us to follow him in ministry;
- the assurance of God's gracious love for us, which empowers us to love others;
- the promise of God's coming reign on earth, which draws us into action directed toward this vision.
It happens in our daily activityFor those who are alert to the needs of others, each day abounds with opportunities to serve. We minister with our families as we inquire about one another's lives, as we listen and respond with care, as we touch, as we smile and offer a kind word, and as we decide questions and reconcile conflicts. We take time to listen to a friend in need and we respond; this is often the greatest gift we can offer. We minister at work, to both co-workers and those we serve. We minister in the neighborhood or the shops as we go about the day's work.
It happens through new initiativesWe also go out of our way to minister. We hear of a need, read of a crisis, or see an opportunity to share God's love. It may be with someone across town, someone of another racial or economic group, a person with a disability, or a person of another nation or culture. We take time to call, visit, write, and ask how we can help. We also take the time to respond.
It happens through groups and institutionsMany needs are best met by joining forces with others. We take part in community groups that are trying to serve human needs or trying to change social forces that cause suffering. We give our time, our energy, and our money. Though others in these organizations may not think of it this way, for us it's Christ's ministry.
It happens through the churchHere in our congregation, we take part in service groups, we sign up for special action projects, visit, we telephone, we lead, and we teach. And we minister face-to-face in all kinds of ways, both when we gather and in our informal contacts.
Inspired by the example of Jesus and empowered by God's love for us, we all carry out our ministry, both individually and together with others.