Nine years ago we held our first worship service as Anchor Community Church. Today is our anniversary, a good day for reflection; these are also good days for refocusing.
I was 23 when we started Anchor. I turn 33 in a couple of weeks. Anchor is such a different church, and I feel like I am a different pastor.
Plenty of people had lots of confidence in me to lead Anchor into existence and into the future, unfortunately I lost most of mine about a year into it, maybe less. A couple of weeks ago the confidence began to return.
What changed? For the first time I feel peace about our vision/purpose/mission/direction. I feel like it's something that we can really own as a congregation, that I can pour energies into without constant reservations about whether it is the right direction for us, whether it will bear fruit, whether it is sustainable, etc.
Not that our focus on making disciples is a totally new idea for us, I think most everybody would say that we have always had an interest in making disciples. But in my perspective, it was not something that we embraced as a church and committed ourselves to as a group. I do feel that our church is gaining momentum in committing wholeheartedly to making disciples.
We still need to work out our understanding of a disicple and how we will make those disciples; not that we have no idea, but we need to work through it together so that we have ownership together and can then commit together.
Some ideas that I hold strongly:
* being a disciple of Jesus is a way of life - an intertwining of orthodoxy and orthopraxy (right belief and right actions).
* part of being a disciple of Jesus is helping others be a disciple of Jesus- either becoming one for the first time, or helping them mature as a disciple.
* being a disciple of Jesus is mostly about doing and saying and believing what Jesus would say/do/believe if he were me as I go about my regular life in my home, in my career/vocation/job, in my school, my church, etc.
* being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily about worshiping each week in a local sanctuary, of being in a small group, of reading the Bible everyday.
* being a disciple of Jesus is not something that I can be/do by myself, it must be lived out with others; just as I must be helping another be a disciple of Jesus, I must be letting someone else help me be a disciple of Jesus, and I must be around others who are doing this as well.
* being a disciple of Jesus is something He calls us into; He calls through His Spirit, through Creation, through His Word, through fellow Humans and Disciples.
* making a disciple of Jesus is not meant to conjure up notions of industrial manufacturing, but rather of helping the people in your life who are responsive to Jesus to take their next step with him - which requires the need for understanding, of patience, of authenticity, of gentleness, of truth, wisdom, etc. We make disciples by helping people learn to trust Jesus with their whole life; this is not something done in a one-day seminar or a thirteen week program, it is done during the weeks and years that you go alongside them in their life.
* being a disciple of Jesus is for everyone who wants it, it is not best done by trained professionals, by over-educated theologians, or highly-committed moralists; the way of life that Jesus calls his disciples into can be done by anyone, since the only way anyone can live it out is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, how does Anchor go about being a "church" as we help one another be the kind of disciples that Jesus calls/commands us to be?
That's what we have to work out together...