The Synoptic accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ end with a very similar, very important command. The end of the book of Mark sees Jesus telling His disciples to, "Go into the world and preach the Good News to everyone" (Mark 16:15), and in Luke, Jesus shares the prophetic decree that the message of salvation and repentance are to be "...proclaimed in the authority of His name to all the nations." (Luke 24:47) Perhaps the most often referenced command comes from the end of Matthew:
"Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.'" - Matthew 28:18-19
Representing some of the last words of Jesus, one would imagine that if these are the last words his followers heard from him, they must be important! Being created, commanded, and given the example to go and make disciples, the missional impulse is as clear and defining for the church as perhaps anything can be. How do we reflect this mission at F1Naz? It's simple:
Faith is the foundation of our mission. Paul writes that God's grace saves us through faith - and not by anything else that we can hope to accomplish, that would "earn" our way into the favor of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) That is why our mission is, first and foremost, to bring new people to faith in Jesus, and to foster exitisting faith. Faith in God brings salvation from sin and condemnation. Faith in God is the beginning of new life. Faith stirs the very heart of God! Everything we do is done with the intent to point us right back to this life-changing faith.
Max Lucado once wrote, "God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." He sums up the purpose of growth quite well here. Faith is available to everyone. There is no person too far gone that Jesus can't forgive them and set their feet on solid foundation through sincere faith. But after declaring our faith, we're not put on a shelf, left waiting for heaven. The Nazarene church is a denomination known as a "holiness" denomination, which means we believe that God desires us to grow steadily from the time we declare our faith - becoming more like Jesus. F1Naz strives to offer opportunities for growth, including regular worship, study, and service.
Our faith doesn't dwell in a vacuum. Ultimately, we don't grow solely for the benefit of ourselves. The Gospel - the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ was meant to be told! As our people develop their faith and seek to grow spiritually, the church serves as a location to equip and launch believers into their communities to tell others of what Jesus has done for them. As a congregation, we are intentional about meeting community needs - just as Jesus met the needs of countless individuals. As individuals, we are sent into our neighborhoods and workplaces to live out the Gospel. As we tell the story, more people come to faith in Jesus - and the process begins anew: Faith. Growth. Community.