Around the age of one I was adopted into the home of a Christian family; a “preacher’s” family. And, having been raised in that home, I’ve never experienced the great “conversion moment” of many born-again believers. I’ve grown up in church, made plaster hand-prints in V.B.S., slept in the sanctuary while Dad worked on his sermons and found comfort roaming its halls. Jesus and the Church have been my rock since I began to talk. And, the inner workings of the Church and Ministry have always been a main topic of my conversation. The Calling – The “call” has always be there. I can remember, at the age of 10 or 12, standing in the narthex contemplating how to get people to come to church. “If we paid everyone $1 every Sunday, maybe they would come.” - At least, even at that age, it was apparent that people needed some reason to come. There are many reasons for not following the call, which I know include: not ready, not worthy, lack of commitment, not wanting to give up living life “as-is,” thoughts of the battles Dad went through and just outright ignoring it. However, today I find my heart, truly, hurts when I look out across the congregation at all the empty seats. It hurts when my fellow Christians spew vicious, hateful things on social media against other races, religions, sexual orientations and political parties. More and more, when my heart hurts the call gets stronger. The call gets stronger with every new issue of injustice. They come to the forefront so fast none can be heard for long. The newest quickly, overtaking the last. The call gets stronger when God’s people say, “Well, people just don’t come to church like they use to (or should.) …I just don’t know.” Or when there is more discussion about the roof or the budget than evangelism. Or When there are more programs to raise funds than raising people in Christ. It gets stronger when non-Christians, talk about the Church tied to intolerance, guns, hatred and racism…And then again, my heart hurts. It hurts because I know Christ and that is not who He is… The world, our community, our neighbors need to know and see who He really is. Vision for My Call – In 2 parts As Christians, we are all instructed to be disciples (inward focus) and to make new disciples (outward focus.) In that outward focus of evangelism of Christ, we are all called to work using our individually anointed, skills, gifts and talents. Part 1– A call of leading a congregation outside its walls – both spiritually and physically. Today, the focus of many churches across the nation has become a task of, merely, maintaining the building and caring for its members. From lack of direction they are “floating” in the community. They go through the same motions, year-in and year-out. They fill positions with “place-holders” just because the positions have always been filled. All the while one pew after another, after another becomes empty…They have completely lost sight of the commission. My vision for the call is to energize disciples who have been chronically focused inward, to find life, joy and a passion for a ministry of looking outside. To change their focus to the struggling world around. To help them find the tools and a REAL desire to follow the Great Commission. Likewise, to energize new disciples to follow Christ with a passion for His teachings! Part 2 – A calling to change hearts and minds. People are all broken, and even at our lowest point we still have dignity, even if neither we nor the rest of the world think we deserve it. And in that place, is where we find God’s saving grace. As Christians we MUST show both our fellow Christians and non-Christians the love of Christ, the respect of life and recognize the dignity they rightly possess. We will gain no new followers of Christ with fight, intolerance, hate, tribalism, judgment or guns.