Mission and Vision
Sharing Hope Teaching Christ through Word and Sacrament liturgical living.
Being disciples by following Jesus Christ to the poor... the meek... the destitute... the lonely... the burdened... the sick... to sinners... to the cross... and to the empty tomb!
Be the Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) by sharing what we have been given to share through cradle to grave Christian education.
- Caring Conversations
- Rituals & Tradition
Basis for Our Congregational Mission, Vision and Strategy
In short the basis for Zion's ministry is grounded in Jesus Christ and his Church. The particular details of our Mission, Vision and Strategy are modeled after the New Testament church in the book of Acts:
38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:38-47).
From the start of the New Testament church there is worship. God is speaking and believers are listening. God is giving gifts and believers are receiving gifts. Said another way, the believers surround themselves with the Word of God - "the apostles' teaching," as well as the sacraments, "baptism" and "the breaking of bread." God comes to them with gifts of grace and they respond with faith and devotion. It is witnessed here in part by the corporate "fellowship" and devotion to "the prayers." From the start this was worship in its fullness.
There is something very profound about this worship. Namely, it facilitated the assimilation of those who were previously unbelievers and outside of this fellowship. What is more, implicit in this worship was the presence of the external outreach to unbelievers that was going on among the "fellowship" of believers: "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
This biblical account recognizes that those who were "added to their number"were added through nothing other than the means to which the believers had devoted themselves - "the apostles' teaching... the fellowship... the breaking of bread and... the prayers." It testifies to the regular manner in which these believers worshipped and reached out to unbelievers. As such, their worship and witness was the beginning of the resurrected Jesus' call for believers to testify and teach about him to the ends of the earth:
"8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Incredible about the book of Acts is that it demonstrates what the life of the Church is all about. Acts shows that among believers in Jesus Christ there is a regular pattern and ritual of worship (i.e. devotion to baptism, breaking of bread, apostles teaching and the prayers - Word and Sacrament) as well as a simultaneous outreach to unbelievers, wherein those unbelievers are added to the Church through the same Word and Sacrament manner of worship.
If this is true, which Lutherans certainly believe, it would only follow that assimilation and outreach of unbelievers flow out of the believers worship life. Therefore Zion's Mission statement of Sharing Hope Teaching Christ through word and sacrament Liturgical Living simply aims to give purpose and direction to our congregation by way of the New Testament Church.
Liturgical living is the understanding that the liturgy is meant to be lived and not merely performed, and that the truths confessed and the gifts we regularly receive in the liturgy are meant to be shared with all others in our daily vocational lives as family members, neighbors and coworkers.
It is recognized that some may hear the word "liturgy" and, for one reason or another, think of "boring" or "irrelevant" worship. However, fully understood the word "liturgy" refers not only to the Divine Service of God giving his gifts of grace and our response of thanksgiving and praise, but also to the regular teaching and telling of the story of Jesus Christ. The intent of the "liturgy," regardless of the different musical instruments we are free to use for accompaniment, is to frame and order our hearing, our learning, our receiving and our response to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Understood this way liturgy is certainly evangelistic and missional. Not only does it grant gifts of grace to all participants, but it regularly teaches the story of salvation. Therefore bringing an unbelieving neighbor to such worship services is indeed a great act of love, but should always be accompanied by clear answers to any questions as well as clear communication for why we worship the way that we do. Further, when Sunday comes to an end, believers who have gathered around the liturgy can go out into the world and bear witness in our words and lives to the Christ who dwells in us as declared by the Scriptures used in the liturgy.
Worship is the place that God's gifts are given and his Word proclaimed. In worship faith is given, it is strengthened, it is sustained. In worship, instruction, teaching and discipling occur. It grounds us, renews us, feeds us and sends us out into the world to Share Hope and Teach Christ.
The New Testament believers of Acts 2, who regularly worshipped, and regularly brought unbelievers with them to worship, whether that was at the temple or the home, had the Lord adding "to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Likewise, the New Testament believers of today are called to regularly worship and go to unbelievers, the hurting and the heartbroken to share the hope of Christ with them and bring them to worship, so that they too, like the believers of Acts 2, might have the Lord adding "to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Therefore in order to know to whom and to where we are to go we can follow Jesus through the eyes and ears of his first disciples and see for ourselves to whom and to where he went: "Jesus said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men'" (Mark 1:17). And so the disciples followed.
Early on the disciples followed Jesus to a synagogue where they heard him teach. Then they followed him to the home of Simon Peter's mother-in-law where he healed the sick. Next they followed him throughout all of Galilee as he preached and drove out demons.
However, the disciples found out that this was just the beginning. Jesus said"Follow me" and they followed. They followed Jesus as he went to the paralytic and the demon possessed; to the outcasts and to the outlaws; to the hopeless and to the hypocrites.
They followed him as he went to the meek and to the poor. They followed him as he went to those with broken homes and broken hearts. They followed him as he went to those overwhelmed with grief and those overloaded with life.
The disciples followed him as he spoke words of comfort, as he forgave sins, as he healed the sick, as he stilled a storm, as he fed 5,000 and as he raised the dead.
They found out that to truly follow Jesus is to believe what he says, go where Jesus goes, care for those whom he cares for and to love those whom he loves.
However, Jesus never said that following him would be easy. "31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected... that he must be killed and after three days rise again... 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'" (Mark 8:31, 34).
Jesus says, "Follow me..." and the disciples followed. So the time comes and the way of the cross is at hand. They followed Jesus, this time to the Garden of Gethsemane. But then came soldiers, then came accusations, then came threats. Even so, Jesus did not withdraw his call to follow.
In the midst of the commotion Peter tries to reverse things and tell Jesus to follow him. He drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant. But Jesus told Peter to put the sword away. Jesus was going to the cross and those who would follow him must do the same.
Here the disciples stop following Jesus. Can you blame them? Who of us wouldn't have done the same? It is hard to follow someone who is going the way of pain. It is hard to follow someone who is going the way of suffering. It is hard to follow someone who is going the way of death. In fact, there may be times when, like Peter, we want Jesus to follow us.
However, to be a disciple of Jesus is to take up our cross and follow Him. This is called the theology of the cross. That is, to see all of life through the cross of Christ.
Here life becomes real - life with all of our hurts, with all of our failures, with all of our sins and with all of our disappointments. The cross reminds us that we live in a fallen, broken and unfair world. The cross reminds us that following Jesus will include pain and sacrifice.
But as he did for Peter, Jesus does for all people. In the midst of fear and hurt, in the midst of sin and selfishness, he looks at us with eyes filled with compassion and he says "Follow me."
Jesus knows what it is like to battle temptation, experience fear, feel pain and suffer the hurt of this life. In fact, this is why Jesus says, "Follow me." For in following Jesus all people are invited to follow him through the sin, the pain and the struggles of this life all the way to the empty tomb! Followers of Jesus Christ take up the cross in order to rejoice in the power of the Resurrection. Here there is unconditional love. Here there is irreversible forgiveness. Here there is the resurrection and the life. Here there is hope!
To follow Jesus is to believe what he says, go where he goes, love those whom he loves, and live the life he gives.
Jesus says, "Follow me." At Zion Lutheran our endeavor is to follow Jesus Christ - day after day, week in and week out, year upon year. We desire to live in his love and rest in his forgiveness, and therefore to share it with others, especially those who do not know Jesus Christ. Consequently, the vision for our life together as a family of faith is grounded in the distinctive marks of being followers of Jesus Christ. Week in and week out we gather around the life giving Word and sacraments given by Christ so that we might be renewed, refreshed and resent into a world that so desperately needs the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
When the resurrected Jesus calls his disciples to follow him where they were to be his "witnesses to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8) and "to make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) he meant what he said.
The Apostle Peter understood this well as he proclaimed that word and sacrament message of Acts 2:38-40 (see above) and especially in the letters that he wrote for other believers. In fact, in his first letter he reminds believers of who they are, whose they are and what they are to do: "9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
Therefore as part of the "royal priesthood" the saints of Zion seek to be intentional in teaching and sharing the faith no matter what the age. From cradle to grave we will teach Christ crucified and the life there is in him.
We are passionate about equipping the families and individual members of our congregation to regularly celebrate and pass on the faith we believe. A special endeavor of ours is to celebrate the life of faith in our homes and therefore make our homes to be places of church as well as mission outposts, that give witness to Christ to all those who may enter them.
In order for us to be intentional and deliberate in this discipling endeavor we lift up and regularly integrate four keys into our daily lives and use them as a framework to pass on and teach the faith: Caring Conversations, Biblical Devotions, Service, Rituals and Traditions.
Caring conversations express an interest in others, their hurts, their joys, their concerns and dreams, their values and faith. Caring conversations require time to be available to listen and to speak. Help families identify the holy ground of their lives where precious caring conversations take place and where lives are strengthened and nurtured by the love and mercy of God through the support, guidance and genuine interest of others.
A devotional life is a way to practice the presence of God through the Word of God. A devotional life is more of a consciousness and way of life than a formula to accomplish a certain task. Family devotions connect the generations with faith, hope and love in a world that speaks and operates on a different basis than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Serving one's neighbor is the calling all are given through the life and message of Jesus Christ. For a Christian, service is motivated out of love we have first received from God. Service communicates this love to others and is a concrete expression of one's own faith and values. Children and youth are greatly influenced by what they see in the lives of others especially parents and other family members.
Rituals and Traditions
Rituals and traditions are those patterns of behavior that can be expected to occur on a routine basis and communicate certain meaning in life. The way people greet one another each day, table grace, bedtime prayers, the daily blessing of family members, the blessing of a Christmas tree or the blessing of family members before they travel are all examples of rituals and traditions that can effectively communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.
Until Christ returns, we remain confident that in Christ we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).