As I mentioned last month, we as a leadership have crafted a new purpose statement that we hope will define what we are trying to achieve as a church. The statement reads as following:

            Smyrna Presbyterian Church gathers together to:

Know and worship the Triune God

Grow in the covenant family of God as reformed disciples

Show forth the love of Christ as servants and witnesses

For the Glory of God.

            This statement is to help focus on the main objectives as a church – and not to get loss in the chaos of “doing church” from week to week. Everything we do, individually and corporately, should be focused on or around these 3 main goals of KNOW – GROW – SHOW. That is because these things summarize the discipleship making process to be disciples and make disciples. This statement helps us to focus on how to do that exactly. So the next few months I want to use these articles to help define what each of these means.

            Last month we looked at KNOWand saw how this is more than just a cognitive head knowledge, but rather the basis for relationship with Almighty God. God being a covenantal God has entered into relationship with man through the Lord Jesus Christ and we must know him to be able to love Him and serve Him. How we know Him is through the Word of God & prayer that the Spirit uses to both birth and increase our faith. To know, we must have knowledge, belief, and trust in our God. As our knowledge and faith increases so does our worship and life’s service.

            The second part of the purpose statement is to GROW. The natural tendency of this word in the context of the church often means to grow in size (numerically) or to grow the bottom line (financially). While these are hopefully a part of the growth that comes in the church, this is not the main idea of this term. Since we as a church are to be primarily concerned with discipleship, our growth must be focused on growing spiritually both individually and corporately. How are we maturing, and being stretched in our faith? How are our views of God and His Kingdom being expanded? How are we learning to trust Him in all things? How are we changing and reforming into what God calls us to be? These and many more are the relevant questions when it comes to this purpose of “to Grow in Christ”.

            If you have children or grandchildren then you will know that if a child is not reaching certain physical and/or behavioral benchmarks for their age, the pediatric community will label their growth as “failure to thrive”. This designation can mean that they are not getting the proper nutrients, or some other illness is preventing them from growing because healthy children should naturally grow. The same is true spiritually. If we are children of God, redeemed by Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the natural spiritual progression should be growth -an inconsistent, yet upward trending growth in grace and sanctification. The hindrance to this type of growth is our own sin or lack of a consistent spiritual diet.

            The growth that we are looking for can be theologically defined as sanctification. The catechism says it well when it speaks of sanctification as “being renewed in the whole man after the image of Christ, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” Did you notice that it says “more and more”? That is the growth that we speak of! God, by His grace and Spirit are reforming us to be more like Christ. That our actions, behaviors, words, thoughts, and deeds would be pleasing to God and reflect Him who we have faith in. That our whole being would be sanctified (set apart) for the Lord. That type of growth will never end (must not end!) until the Lord calls us home, or He comes to be with us.

            Our growth cannot and will not happen by itself, nor by ourselves. The Lord is pleased to work through you and within the context of the local body of believers in the church. As we welcome, love, serve, pray, instruct, encourage, forgive, stir, and bear one another burdens, we will GROW – by and with one another. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches” and individually and collectively we must abide in Him (Jn.15:5). What a pleasure it is to grow as a mature believer (branch) in Christ (the True Vine) and to do so in the context of the local church.

            As you begin this new year – pray for GROWTH – spiritually for yourself, for your family, as well as for your church family. May God be pleased to hear our prayers.

            God bless and Happy New Year!