Beyond Church Walls

This morning I finished the next in my series of sabbatical books to read. Beyond Church Walls: Cultivating a Culture of Care by Rick Rouse.

Trinity has worked hard in the last couple of years to think about how we connect and serve within our community. We were working to connect individuals to serve at places like Community Pathways, Hospitality House and Rachel’s Light, among others.

And then…along came COVID.

So we find ourselves again restarting the initiative to send. We believe Trinity is a place not simply to “be,” but rather to “go.”

This is the root of what Rouse is talking about in his book.

Rouse writes that: “The focus on releasing the gifts of God’s people in the world requires the church to recognize that its primary ministry is equipping disciples to live their baptismal faith in service to others.” 

Yes, congregations are certainly places of care for those who come there. We care for each other, and we gather to worship, to share in meals, to show compassion with each other…we do all of these things. But what is our purpose beyond that? As people called by God to go out and to serve and care for our neighbor, our task is to prepare each other to follow Jesus’ call out of the building, and to serve those in need. We aren’t simply a “chapel,” whose purpose is inward. We are a church, whose focus is outward.

The work of the church is to cross boundaries, into communities and across faiths to bring about the vision of God in the here and now. 

This book is an important reminder that this is God’s call for us. And it is a reminder that we as a church have committed to be “For Owatonna.” We are for care, peace, justice, service, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, providing shelter to those in need and healing for the broken.

It’s not only what we do. It is who we are.

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