Mountain Park UMC seeks to faithfully live into our mission and vision at such a time and place as this, by “Living Jesus. Loving Community.”
“To connect our community with Jesus to transform lives.”
Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, he instructs his disciples to go and make new disciples throughout the world, baptizing them and teaching them in the Way of Christ - which is known as the Great Commission. Matthew’s Gospel tell us, “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20, MSG)
All churches throughout the world share this common mission from Jesus as we seek to all build God’s Kingdom. Rooted in the Great Commission, our own United Methodist denomination’s mission statement encourages us to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” It’s through each expression of the local church where we inherit this same mission and live it out in our own communities and neighborhoods. To be faithful to this greater mission at such a time and place as this, Mountain Park UMC’s mission statement drives each of us “to connect our community with Jesus to transform lives.”
We believe that God has not only called us but has also equipped us to live into our mission. God has equipped us with a strategy and a vision for embodying this mission to its fullness. The vision encompasses three key aspects:
We gather to build Christian community.
We grow to become more faithful followers of Jesus.
We go to serve and love all people in Jesus’ name.
Matthew’s Gospel reminds us that, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matthew 18:19-20, MSG). With this in mind, our first key aspect “to gather to build Christian community” encourages us to imagine new, relevant ways for us to be intentional in engaging with our surrounding community and even in expanding our understanding of what “gathering” can and could look like as God seeks to take action in all of our lives. Imagine when disciples of Christ gather in all areas of life and our neighborhoods to build Christian community. We can gather in our homes, in coffee shops, in restaurants, at gyms and yoga studios, at sporting events, and even more places that God may call us to gather in our day-to-day lives to begin building relationships with new faces in new places.
Paul encourages us in his letter to the Colossians, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV) Our second key aspect “to grow to become more faithful followers of Jesus” holds us all accountable to grow in both knowledge and in wisdom of our faith, but also to live it out. Our learning of who God is helps us to grow our hearts to see and love all of God’s people. Imagine when disciples of Christ grow and become more faithful to the way of Jesus – lives will be transformed for eternity. We strive to grow in a host of ways, whether through daily worship, devotion, and prayer, where we center ourselves with the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-5); to listening, learning, and applying the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10), which ushers us into a promised, abundant life (John 10:10-11) of gratitude, generosity, hospitality, and faith-sharing. These aspects of discipleship (and more) help us to respond in faith and glorify God in all that we do.
The Letter of James teaches an important lesson, “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!,’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (James 2:14-17, MSG) Our third aspect to “go to serve and love all people in Jesus’ name” requires us to put our faith into action. We do not just proclaim God’s love to the world, but we share and live it every day. Imagine when we, as children of God, seek to intentionally go and show up in our community to bless others, welcome and affirm them, and invite them into God’s growing family of salvation and redemption. God’s Kingdom is built one life at a time as faithful followers of Jesus see, serve, and love all the people God has called us to reach.