(Brian Henricks, one of Immanuel Lutheran's prodigious lay leaders.)
Recipe for Mission
1. Devotions. Make it a practice to spend time every day with God. Spiritual self-care is vital to effective ministry.
2. Get out in the community. Build relationships with people so that they know your name and through you know the church's name.
3. Know people's names. Especially know the names of people in your congregation.
4. Use a mission statement to direct ministry. The mission statement can be used to keep you accountable to Christ throughout your ministry and it helps keep the main thing the main thing.
5. Utilize effective ministry teams. You can't do everything, so help people identify their gifts and empower them to take part in ministry to youth, welcoming newcomers, reaching out to the unchurched, planning and leading worship, whatever.
6. Know the pastors in your area. These are your colleagues. Make sure you are all working together to serve Christ.
7. Find time to disengage. You can't work all the time. Make time to get away for a little so you don't burn out. It's hard to disengage, but you have to do it.
8. Have fun! Humor and laughter is a great way to build community and relieve stress.
9. Practice practical evangelism. Do small things for people that are truly helpful. Meet peoples' needs to get the Word out.
10. If God called you to it, God will see you through it. Trust in your calling.
We were able to see this recipe at work in the life two other congregations later in the afternoon. The first was Zion Lutheran Church in Sutton, NE where Pr. Judy Nuss was leading a vibrant and surprisingly young congregation. Then we went to The Way of Grace Fellowship to meet with Rev. Martha Nordt. The church was was housed in her basement!
I had never been to a house church before, and it was exciting to see how free the congregation and pastor were to truly serve God in mission. Without all of the overhead of a separate church building, they are able to do more mission work than I would have ever thought possible for a congregation of 30 people. They serve meals to the poor, sponsor families in impoverished nations, help with a food pantry, promote and sell fair trade products, push for environmentally friendly practices, are involved in Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and many more initiatives.
Martha spoke to us about the importance of standing up for what the Lord is calling us to do and maintaining grace under fire. Her personal story of being crucified (figuratively) by a congregation for the parish's own personal problems was extremely moving. Her story speaks about the reality of redemption and resurrection and the importance of following God's call no matter what the price.
For dinner tonight I cooked for Betty and Gary, to try to give back for all that they have given me this past week.
I made Ham-Stuffed Apples and they were such a hit that I have gotten multiple requests for the recipe. So I figured I would just post it up here so everybody could have it. It's a pretty easy recipe and the final product turns out looking fancy and tasting delicious!
6 large red apples
8 oz cooked ham, cubed small
2 T. butter
1/3 c. raisins
1/3 c. pecans, chopped
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. apple juice (may need up to 1 cup)
1. Cut the tops off the apples and scoop out the centers, leaving a sturdy enough shell to hold the stuffing.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Mix approximately 1 cup of the removed fruit with ham, butter, raisins, pecans, and brown sugar.
4. Spoon this mixture into the cored apples and place them in a baking dish.
5. Pour the juice over the apples and bake for 35-40 min., basting occasionally with the juice.
After a great dinner the three of us joined Lee Saathoff and Elaine for the Adams Central basketball game at Doniphan-Trumbull. Gary used to work for Adams Central, so we joined the visitors section and cheered our team on to a win! It was an exciting game, intense right up to the final buzzer. The gymnasium was packed too. It seemed like the entire community turned out to cheer on these kids!