Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Saint Patrick's Church is all about or Getting involved in Saint Patrick's Church

I often get asked, "What is Saint Patrick's Church about?" or "How do I get involved in Saint Patrick's Church?" In the simplest terms here is how I would answer those questions.

Most churches define involvement in terms of participation in programs. We define involvement in terms of commitment to practices. We want to be companions who encourage, help and strengthen each other on the pilgrim way of Christian discipleship. We are trying to fashion a way of living the Gospel life together that will sustain and nurture each person in and out of every season of life.

This way of living is captured in five words: disciples, worship, community, formation and mission.

Disciples: Our mission is to make disciples. Nothing more nothing less. This is what Jesus left the Church with at his ascension. As far as I know he hasn't changed his mind since then. This mission applies to everyone at Saint Patrick's because everyone is being made into a disciple. In the Great Commission the discipleship agenda is to baptize and teach to obey all of Christ's commands. Whether we are brand new to the faith or have been at it for decades we are still learning to obey all of his commands.

We summarize the life of discipleship and hence, involvement in Saint Patrick's around 4 Practices. The 4 Practices are not the be all and end all of the life of discipleship. They are our rule of life -- much like a monastic movement has a rule of life. They summarize our core values and practices. Within the space of these practices the Holy Spirit works to form us into people who obey all of Christ's commands.

1. Worship: A commitment to participate well in Saint Patrick's worship.
2. Community: A commitment to know, serve and love other participants in Saint Patrick’s as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ.
3. Formation: A commitment to utilizing both personal and corporate practices to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to grow into Christ-like character.
4. Mission: A commitment to love and serve God’s world in word and deed.

Of course, we do have activities and programs. Our central, on going program is weekly worship in Word and Sacrament. Our other activities are more occasional and designed to help us live the four practices. But we do not define involvement by how busy one is with all these activities. We define involvement in terms of Christian discipleship and the 4 Practices.


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Bob said...

I like this idea. The church I used to go to had core classes that members were expected to go through. They weren't very effective (IMO).

The concept of practices is interesting, though. The best part is it isn't something you go through (and finish). It is a lifestyle you adopt (much like the Rule).