By Marty Troyer

As a congregation, our most consistent statement of faith over the last couple years is the profound statement that “we are being transformed.” As profound as this statement is, it’s important to note the passive nature of the phrase. It suggests we are being acted upon by an outside force, with or without our consent. Likewise, many of our core values we expressed are also passive statements, such as our 2010 focus statement “we want to grow.” Notice how this statement expresses desire, but does not offer suggestions on how this will happen (magic, answered prayer, someone else doing it, etc…).While these passive statements enlarge our perspective by reminding us God is the ultimate actor, they can also anesthetize us from responsibility and action! Statements of action that place us as the subject rather than the object of the phrase may serve us well alongside these theo-centric statements.

Here are 10 active phrases that, if adopted, may bring us closer to our goals of congregational growth and transformation:

  1. I will care for people with no faith community to call home. I will offer support, prayers, listening, and resources, acting as a community for those who have none.
  2. I will see inviting others to church as an extension of my caring for them. I’ll start by inviting some people I know to our church picnic this Sunday.
  3. I will take some risks and try new things. I’m willing to change my behavior in order to see a different outcome than we are used to.
  4. I will be a good and joyful host to any and every visitor our church has, helping them feel at home, find resources, offering them a seat, inviting them to lunch, etc…
  5. I will personally commit to building deep relationships with new attenders through shared meals, emails, hospitality, and lots and lots of dialogue.
  6. I commit to learning by trial and error, realizing there is no such thing as failure.
  7. I will be a generous person with my time, talents, and possessions.
  8. I will take personal responsibility for our outreach and church growth, and not think that it is the pastors or the Outreach teams job.

Numbers nine and ten are congregational in nature, and deal with our corporate worship.

  1. We will practice sharing our faith during worship on Sundays. Our “community dialogue” time is an opportunity for us to safely share our beliefs, our testimony, and our experiences with God, and we will do so verbally and in writing.
  2. During the next couple weeks (From Easter to Pentecost) we will focus on early church stories of sharing faith boldly, and on practical ways for us to do so today. The theme of New Heavens and a New Earth places our own desires in the midst of God’s cosmic desires for all of creation.

Our passive vision statements remind us that God is at work in us. These (and other better) active statements call us to participate with God. Together the active and passive, the acting and the being acted on, are what God would have us believe:

  • “I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was in me.” 1 Cor 15:10
  • “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:29
  •  “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” Gal 2:20
  • “Without me you can do nothing.” John 15

By God’s grace, and through your own actions, may you make changes and be transformed.
By God’s grace and through our corporate practices, may HMC make changes and be transformed! AMEN