“The Ministers of The Church are The People” comma?

At our last call committee meeting, we were talking about goals of the church and what our mission is. A member of the committee brought up this idea of the comma, and it really struck a chord in me. The statement was made that our mission stated in the church for all to see is that “The Ministers of this Church are the People.” If you’ve spent any time in our gathering space and looked up, you’ve probably seen it hanging there on the wall. If you’ve been a member of our church for any length of time in the past ten years, you may have started to notice that it is the lifeline we’ve clung to as we have gone through more pastoral calls than should be needed in that amount of time. We wear
that motto/mission proudly on the shirts of our congregation as well we should because, quite frankly, without the congregation of this church stepping up and filling the gaps when we have lacked consistent leadership in a pastoral form, we may very easily have shut the doors a while ago.

But when we look at that statement, the point was made that it seems it’s just the beginning of the message. Perhaps it is missing the comma that allows us to pause before we complete the thought. We have reached the comma. We are at the pause, again. This time we see the need for it to be there, and more importantly, we know that there is more to be said in this statement after the comma. We are the ministers of this church. So what? What will we do with that charge we have been given? We’ve kept the walls up, we’ve kept the doors open, we’ve kept minimal programming running through all the many ups and downs we’ve gone through in the past and as of late. But is that enough? Is that all that God is asking of us? Perhaps we are going through yet another call because we haven’t quite gotten the point that God is trying to impress upon us. We have more to do. The sentence doesn’t stop there. We are missing the comma, and it’s time to rewrite the sentence to completion. There are many definitions of the word minister, but the one I hear calling out to us from the Oxford Languages website is this: a person or thing used to achieve or convey something. God doesn’t just want us sitting in this church keeping the lights on. He wants to use us to achieve His glory, to share His
Good News! We can’t do that sitting in our four walls waiting for people to come to us. We must go out to others, live our lives as examples of Christ and share how he has changed us by our words and more importantly, our actions. The community that surrounds our sanctuary does not necessarily look the same way as the community inside our walls.

Maybe God is asking us to break down the walls and start reaching out to that community that is different from us. Be it race, ethnicity, orientation, or age. We need to start sharing all that is good within our four walls with those outside of this place. And in turn, realize that all those people have so much to bless us with as well. We just need to be open to our differences. God purposely created us all as individuals. Each of us looking different, thinking different, with a different background and life, but God created us all in His image, so we are all the same children of God.

As we continue forward in this pastoral call, we ask each one of you to think about what the rest of the sentence is. Take this time to add the comma, take pause, and think about what we are meant to do as ministers of this church. We have an opportunity here to start afresh, to create goals and visions for this church as high as the heavens. We need to do that. We need to use the gifts God has blessed us with in this place and bring it to others. We need to show our ability to love one another regardless of our differences and welcome the differences into this place. It is only in that way that we will continue to grow in God’s glory and grow together as God’s family. We ask that you think about
what the rest of the sentence should be. Come to us with your thoughts and ideas about the visions and goals you see for Christ Lutheran. Let’s minister not only to THIS church, but to the worldly church and let God’s love shine from us
as far as it will reach.

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