No, it’s not my birthday, I actually passed 38 a little while ago! Thirty-eight is actually the amount of people being baptized this weekend!! I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. Many of the folks are people who just became believers in Jesus through Grace Church. Others are folks who have revitalized or committed to Jesus in the past year or two here. I am so excited, not because of the number, although the number is cool – but it’s about the lives! Each of the 38 people are lives that have been rescued by Jesus. Each of the 38 are people who are being transformed by the grace of Jesus. Each of the 38 are part of our growing community of Jesus-followers here at Grace. I am completely humbled and honored that we get to be a part of this significant moment in each life! And I can’t wait to see the whole church gathered on the hillside at Snail Lake Park to witness and celebrate the outward demonstration of the inward transformation!
To be clear, Jesus is about our hearts (as the last blog post highlights) – and yet there are very real ways to set goals and create movement FROM A HEART that is set apart to God.
For many years churches have focused on two key measurements: “nickels and noses”. I know it sounds a little irreverent, but when churches would be evaluated for their effectiveness, the focus was how generous (money-wise) is the church and how many people (noses) are coming. While I do believe if people are prioritizing the things of God with their finances, it’s typically a good sign of spiritual growth and commitment. And obviously if people are coming to regularly engage with a community of faith by showing up – that is a good sign as well. Yet I think these measurements fall short of determining the spiritual health of a church.
We live in a culture that tends to define itself by a set of actions. Think about the last time you met someone you didn’t know, my guess is within a few minutes the question came up, “so, what do you do?” And what tends to happen is we size-up, rank and define who that person is based on what they tell us they do. Sometimes it’s a positive thing, we take interest in what interests them, we find common ground etc. Other times we may write off someone because they don’t rank on our list of what is valuable. And all of this happens based on essentially one criteria: what you do for a job or with the majority of your time. It’s normal and natural in our world. This is why it is no surprise when I meet people who have defined their relationship with God on the same criteria.