“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:13-16
This past Sunday we were given an overview of what it means to be Vital through this scripture and how to be that salt and light. Jesus—we said—has declared these statements as indicative, as a given, as part of who we are as followers of God by God’s doing. We said that if we are followers of Jesus, we will be salt and light, and that means there is a noticeable difference about us just as salt and light are noticeable when present.
I reintroduced the Vital Congregations Initiative (VCI) and how we as a church need guidance and direction for our future. We looked back to the most recent sermon series “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask,” at the questions of “what do you need,” and “where do we go from here?” and said that we need to ask ourselves as the gathered people of First Presbyterian Church of Victor to answer these. Recall how sometimes the answer to “what do you need?” is a more existential answer about life’s meaning, purpose, and direction. I mentioned the life force, or what gives us vitality for our own lives, and how that is often multi-faceted. Further we compared that to why we exist as the Church universal, as well as why we exist as the gathered people of FPC Victor.
VCI will be a journey into those questions. It is about honest assessment of our strengths as a community and where we need to grow and transform into a more vital congregation. It will mean asking others what is noticeable about us as a church and coming to terms with any ways we have lost our “saltiness.” Today I want to invite you to do two things: First, is an invitation from me to you to participate as fully as you can in the work we will be doing because in many ways this is the work I was asked to do as Interim Pastor and I need all of your help to do this. Second, please read through these lists to learn about what VCI is and what it is not according to the people who put it together.
What this is:
The hope is this is the beginning of intentional, authentic relationships between the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Mission Agency and mid council leaders and pastors to:
• Come together as the people of God
• Pray: re-turn to faithfulness in God
• Inspire openness to the Holy Spirit’s transformation/change
• Honestly assess, discern and act
• Resource, equip and support leaders and pastors
• Practice missional evangelism and faithful discipleship
• Equip vital congregations and develop a praxis of sustainability and ongoing assessment
• Capture congregational stories and develop new measurements of vitality
What this is NOT:
• A universal program instructing churches and assuring vitality and sustainable life
• Another plan that promises an immediate fix
• A guarantee of revitalization for every congregation
• An attempt for the PC(USA) to tell churches what to do
• An institutional survival guide for membership, numbers and buildings
• An encouragement to tweak, yet remain the same
• A return to glory days gone by, nor a guidebook on calling the young pastor
I love the honesty named in this second list in that it names there are no promises that this will mean vitality, nor is it an attempt to be told what to do, and it especially is not about tweaking some things and remaining the same. No matter what it is or is not, I believe we will grow. I believe we will learn, and further I believe we will gain perspective on where we are going and who we are called to be.