Grace for All Generations
For the month of October, I will use the sermons to cast a new vision for Grace Lutheran. This past summer a group of people called the Vision Management Team has help me to develop and package this vision. There are still some refinements that will happen and this vision will be up for adoption by the congregation at the Voter’s Assembly held on Sunday, November 15, at 9:45 A.M. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, gaining your support and partnering together to accomplish the mission God has for us in the months and years ahead.
In His Service,
Pastor Charles Reich
GRACE FOR ALL GENERATIONS
Generations ∙ Grounded ∙ Gathering ∙ Going
A warm fire burns in the heart of God for all people. He desires every person to be restored to Himself through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and He continues carrying out His mission through people, generation to generation.
In the mid 1940’s, a group of Lutheran Christians began gathering in Winter Haven, Florida and formed Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church to continue God’s mission and extend His Kingdom. For the last seventy years, Grace Lutheran Church and School has faithfully carried the light of God’s grace and ministered the warmth of His love in Word and Sacrament to the generations of East Polk County. At this time, members of the congregation have been prayerfully kindling a new vision to better minister to today’s generations, so that the torch of God’s grace in Christ Jesus continues to be passed to future heirs.
A CHURCH FOR ALL GENERATIONS
Many young people in East Polk County have never left the area. Others have gone away and returned to the Winter Haven community in order to begin and raise a family. Numerous senior couples continue migrating to our neighborhoods and lakes to enjoy their retirement. Jobs and family bring various generations of others in to the community.
Recognizing that different generations appreciate different approaches, Grace Lutheran will utilize multiple methods to minister to multiple generations at the same time. Varied leaders and ministries will target specific generations. There will be inter-generational and cross-generational events for the whole church family to celebrate God’s grace together throughout the seasons, but there will also be satisfaction in the understanding that only parts of the family will meet together much of the time.
A CHURCH THAT IS GROUNDED
Like a torch bearing a consistent flame, Grace Lutheran will not pursue every method of ministry that flashes around, but will faithfully and steadily be current and competent in ministry for each generation. As a regional church, grounded in the Word, the fervent fire of God’s Spirit will steadily burn in the hearts of His people with progressive embers for growth in future generations so that seventy years from now, there will still be a Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Winter Haven effectively ministering to the generations.
Spiritual growth for members and the whole church family will be continually kindled in the teachings of God’s Word and their daily applications. The Lord’s Supper will remain a regular and primary connection point for communing with God and with one another. Digital connections and online streaming opportunities will be sought for broader contacts with members and the community at large.
A CHURCH THAT IS GATHERING
Grace Lutheran will seek multiple opportunities for family and friends of each generation to gather together for fellowship, support, encouragement, and fun.
A single flame left to its self may flicker and be extinguished, but when it is gathered with other flames, it burns more fervently and enduringly. In an ever-increasing age of individualism, virtual and distanced communication, it is important for individuals of God’s family to also gather together for actual fellowship. God designed life to be lived together and the true joys of life; love, grace, goodness, and faith, are best experienced when one is with others.
We seek to be a gathering church of family and friends learning from God’s Word how to live life together, deal with sin and disappointment, and receive strength from God’s Sacraments to practice love and forgiveness in fellowship with each other. Ministries of Grace Lutheran will be designed to teach various relational skills and help family and friends and better enjoy life together. Not only around the Word and at the altar rail, but members will also gather at traditional tables, back yards and wireless keyboards. Gathered together, the fire of God’s people will continue to endure and grow.
A CHURCH THAT IS GOING AND SERVING
Even as the fire of God’s Spirit burns bright within the walls of our church campus, Christ continually sends His people out into the community and to share the light of His grace with all.
Fewer people are coming to church and many today have misconceived or even negative views of the Christian church. To help overcome misconceptions, we will go out and bring the Church to people in positive ways, wherever they are, serving neighbors and meeting needs in our community. We will be patient and prayerful in evangelism, seeking to establish friendships and to offer a listening ear before sharing the Good News of Christ Jesus. Believing the Christian Church is organic and faith in Christ is lived among people, we will focus on going out and being the Church in everyday life, not just coming to church. We will be individual lights of God’s grace in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, exercise clubs and wine bars. We seek to join in with what God is already doing in the hearts of those He places us among, which is often simply being an attentive friend and a supportive citizen.
We also desire to be a going church together, doing as many things as possible as God’s church of people out in the community. Together, we seek to partner with local missions, develop beneficial relationships, and give of ourselves so that Grace is known as a positive blessing to the Winter Haven community.
With the Spirit of Christ leading us in God’s mission, firmly grounded in His Word and Sacraments, gathering together for strength in relationships and graciously going out and serving, we will continue passing the torch of God’s grace to multiple generations.
There are 4 – G’s to this vision:
1) A church that ministers to multiple generations
2) A church grounded in God’s Word and Sacrament that will endure for generations
3) A church that is gathering together to strengthen relationships among the generations
4) A church that is going out, serving in everyday life and taking Christ to the generations