October 25, 2009
The Church exists in a community and serves the community. The Church therefore that neglects or forgets its Social Responsibilities is preparing itself for its own Funeral. The question is what is the Church? The Church is the body of Christ and is made up of men and women of the faith community. The Church is not a social club, though it has Social Responsibilities. The Church owes everything to Jesus Christ and it is around Him that everything revolves. What therefore was Jesus’ mission? When we as a Church understand His mission then we will understand our purpose. Jesus tells us of His mission in Luke 4: 18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. In this mission statement, Jesus is saying that the Church must minister not only to the spiritual, but the physical needs of the individual as well.
In looking at any Church then, certain questions must be asked, such as: What does it believe? What are its emphases? What are its special concerns? What is the nature of its worship? What is its historical development? In understanding the role of the Church it cannot be anything but the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world. If it accepts this position then its ministry must be in the trenches where people are. It must feel the brokenness and pain of the people, stand in solidarity with them and then provide the Light to empower and guide the people to a better life. The Moravian Church must engender hope even in the midst of darkness, brokenness, confusion and apparent hopelessness. The Moravian Church must demonstrate its faith in God to do what He says He will do, even when there is nothing to see. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. We live by faith, not by sight.
Recent Synods of the Moravian Church have wrestled with societal issues and have issued statements on such matters as human sexuality, changing family patterns, HIV/Aids, health issues, alcohol, drugs and drug addiction, ministry to our senior citizens and homeless, education and many other matters that affect our people. Local congregations have been encouraged to study and take action on issues which impact their witness in their communities. The community must not only feel but it must know that the Church cares. It must seek to meet the needs of people in the community. How people survive on a daily basis must be the business of the Church. The bread and butter issues that persons are faced with must be the concerns of the Church. The Church must ask the question, how can we help? The primary position of the Church though is to empower persons and not to act as an agent of “hand-outs”. The Church must therefore see Teaching as one of the main tools to empower persons to give them a sense of purpose and direction. If the salt (the Church) is going to be effective, it has to be integrally involved in the life of the people and that’s where God has called the Church to be.