Part 3 of 4

What do we expect of TPC members?

Studies have shown that when certain expectations are set, it helps others develop their own group of rules and boundaries. It gives a sense of accountability to others, and creates goals for which to strive. In this series, I’ll discuss what the expectations are that go along with membership in Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church. The third is Christian service.

This focus of this expectation is that each of us will participate in at least one act of Christian service throughout the year.

You may notice that there’s a pattern developing and hidden amidst these four great expectations.

With worship, it’s understood that attending worship is an act for God, as He calls us to worship Him. But it also serves to simultaneously nourish us and the community to which we belong. Spiritual growth focuses on our own personal growth and is essentially a way we serve ourselves.

“How Christian service is accomplished takes many different shapes and forms, but it all begins with God and ends with others.” ~ Rev. Chris KirwanNow we come to the expectation of Christian service, which is a distinct focus on others. We are taught and encouraged to look beyond the ends of our noses, and beyond the walls and scope of the church itself to which we belong. That is why so many churches over the years have participated in millions of different ministries, outreaches, service projects, and mission trips.

Naturally, there are many different ways to get involved in Christian service, and not all of them need to be done in or through a church. Much of how we serve can be driven by an internal desire or passion that was guided by the Holy Spirit.

One of my favorite theologians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, once wrote:

… as the congregation gathers and experiences together God’s grace in word, sacrament, and service, the church as community becomes the presence of Christ in the world.”

Does this alone not sound like a very brief summation of our three great expectations?

Beginning with us as a congregation, of course we experience God in Word and Sacrament, as found in attending worship. Then, from there, we, as a community become the presence of Christ in the world. Quite simply, we must be that beacon of hope for others that Bonhoeffer was for his people and as Christ has been for many.

How does one accomplish this? Through mission and service to others.

The key to Christian service and mission work, is, genuinely, a heart, a love and an intentionality for others. Then, on top of that we have to have a passion, or some desire, somewhere to drive us to put our gifts, talents, and abilities together to do something positive and impactful for someone else.

How that is accomplished takes many different shapes and forms, but it all begins with God and ends with others. That is why the expectation of participating in at least one act of Christian service a year has been set. We are called to do just that, and by doing so, we are in fact acting as the body of Christ in the world, which sees its genesis in worship and fruit in service.