As we struggle to live our daily lives as Christians in our hectic world what better example could there be than Jesus and the way he lived his life? Jesus was in a deep, committed relationship with his father, his followers and those who were not yet among his followers. In his life Jesus kept these relationships which we call UP, IN and OUT, in balance. It is this balance we hope to emulate.
Our congregational triangle shows three points of connectedness through our UP, IN and OUT relationships.
Our UP angle refers to our relationship with God. It is our source of strength and comfort and it is most familiarly expressed in worship, educational opportunities, and prayer/devotion.
Think of UP as walking with a friend. Walking humbly with God illustrates the ideal relationship we can share with our God through Jesus. Turning to the Bible we see several narratives in which this walk is illustrated. We are told that Adam walks with God in the cool of the evening in the garden (Genesis 3:8). Enoch walks with God and is taken straight to heaven (Genesis 5:24). Jesus, in calling his disciples, invites them to walk with him. “Come follow me” he says in Mark 1:17. Jesus is walking and we get to walk with him.
Our IN angle refers to our relationship with each other, the community of believers. It encompasses how we interact and relate to each other not only personally but through the various ministries and programs that our congregation offers.
These types of relationships do not simply happen through membership in the congregation or by attending services; rather they are formed by spending time together in community, sharing our stories with each other as well as our joys and struggles. IN is about welcoming the newcomer and giving and receiving support, comfort and encouragement in an atmosphere of acceptance, love and belonging. God desires to build his community in strength, wisdom, knowledge and numbers. His desire is for all people to be in community, brought together through Jesus into his kingdom.
Our OUT angle is not only about our relationship with people outside our faith community but also people outside the Kingdom of God.
Jesus demonstrates the OUT focus in his life when he says to his disciples, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43). As followers of Jesus, we get to reveal the love of Jesus through our actions more than through our words. Have you ever come alongside a friend or co-worker who is struggling with an issue and simply invited them to lunch? That is living the OUT angle. Have you stopped to help a stranger on the street? That is living the OUT angle. Have you ever offered to pray for someone you know who is not a Christian? That is living the OUT angle.
God is the one who puts these opportunities in front of us. He is the one who draws our attention to a person in need. It is his Spirit who plants the thought that maybe we could draw closer and be a friend in that moment.
WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT BALANCE?
The equilateral triangle is a geometric shape consisting of three sides of equal length with equal interior angles. This equality or balance among the angles is integral to the strength of the triangle. When the sides of the triangle are unequal lengths or the interior angles are different the triangle is no longer in balance.
We can think of our congregational triangle as an equilateral triangle where all three angles, UP, IN, and OUT, are the same size, one not more important than the other. All are equally important to the integrity of the whole.
A BALANCED CHURCH
At St. Luke’s we are striving to become a balanced church. A balanced church touches people where they are, inside the congregation, the wider community, or outside the faith.
A balanced church recognizes the need for reaching OUT to the community and to the world. It recognizes that God’s word is not a personal gift to be stored and kept in private, but rather a gift meant to be shared with everyone.
A balanced church is one that is accepting of all, forgiving, welcoming and loving. We believe by keeping the angles of our triangle in balance we can focus on our vision whereby “Jesus is the centre of life for everyone in our community.”