University Lutheran ChurchLutheran Campus Ministry

at Arizona State University - 340 E. 15th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281-6612 (480) 967-3543 (map)
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Ministry and Mission

Pastor Gary McCluskey
Pastor Gary N. McCluskey

Pastor's Notes
Gary N. McCluskey, Pastor

Ministry and mission are words freely tossed about in the church. They are part and parcel of why the church exists. Yet defining these words can be tricky. Webster likes precision in definition. These words are not always that precise in meaning. 

Building programs are always interesting. People easily become mistaken and think such programs, necessary as they might be, are their congregation's mission and they are doing ministry. Actually buildings are about having good tools for ministry. Buildings don't minister. Neither do advertisements, signs, brochures, or many other very good and helpful things minister. And they are not the church's mission. 

People minister. That means ministry is above all relational. We do well here in welcoming people new to our faith community. The feedback I receive even from people visiting for a baptism or visiting family is quite good. Yesterday I heard from a visiting pastor who brought family. They were very happy with the welcome received and touched by the note received two days later in the mail. We are very relational in our welcome of guests. (Thanks to all who provide welcome bags and the gifts inside that add greatly to the welcome)

But getting people here...... being intentional in our outreach and being intentional in inviting others more deeply into our faith community....that is a work in progress. As you notice new members being received, notice also how most did not simply wander in or find us on their own. There was a connection...a relationship. Someone here was known to them. 

This is also how a congregation's ministry and mission grows from inside the church. We can print all kinds of great newsletters, bulletin announcements, send emails and have a web site. All are important and very necessary. These things too do not minister;after all they are things. They are wonderful tools.  

We can make general invitations to all. Yet the most effective way to grow ministry is to relate at the personal level. Personally invite someone to Summer Connections and take the time to explain what happens there. Personally invite someone to Women's Bible Study, Men's breakfast, or to serve on a project or in a leadership position. I have just recently seen someone quite honored to be asked to serve who would have never volunteered had they not been asked. Understandably we fear asking. Yet psychologists continue to say if you want to get closer to someone, ask them to do something for you.  Also invite people to talk about their faith journey. What will they miss most from their last church? As they look at ULC/LCM, what is it that appeals to them? What might they think could be a positive addition?

This might be a bit scary to most of us. I suspect this is because we forget that if ministry is relational, we might discover that we too are being ministered to and we too get something from relationships. We just might discover that maybe it isn't just us relating and ministering. God may be at work from simple to profound moments. God seems to relate best through human relationships and encounters. 

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