Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Baptismal Wellness for Churches in One Word: "New"!

Reading time, two minutes. God’s Word is so powerful that even one little word of Scripture can change everything.  Ephesians 4 is an unending source of wisdom for our life together in the body of Christ.  As I review the Lutheran Wellness Wheel once again over the next eight weeks, I’m going to focus on just one word from Ephesians per topic. This week’s word shows up twice: “…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self” (Eph. 4:23-24). One difference between the old self and the new is joy.  The old nature grieves over hurt and loss.  The new nature rejoices in the life that springs from death.  Churches are continually in need of reasons to rejoice.  Here’s how I believe baptismally healthy congregations live by joy! Baptismal wellbeing is really nothing more than remembering who we are in Christ.  When everything goes wrong, the people of God remember the greatness of God, the steadfast love of God, the forgiving, restoring, refreshing, renewing grace of God and begin all over again. It’s death and resurrection.  It’s confession and absolution.  Baptismal wellbeing, in Ephesians 4, is “off with the old; made new in grace; on with the new!” In some ways, life in our churches is a journey from one heartbreak to another.  Setbacks, losses and disappointments are a way of life for us.  But when we’re grounded in God’s baptismal grace, the font of renewal is always one “Lord, have mercy!” away.  For example… Half as many children as we hoped for showed up for VBS. “Lord, have mercy!”  We rejoice in the transforming work of the Spirit in the life of one child who will someday advance the kingdom of God in ways we’ll never know!  On with the new. A major community impact initiative turns out to be an expensive failure after a year’s long effort.  “Lord, have mercy!”  We rejoice in lessons learned to guide our next effort.  On with the new. Offerings fall way short of budget expectations.  “Lord, have mercy!”  We rejoice that ministry is driven by Word and Spirit, not by dollars.  On with the new. A beloved church leader bids farewell and moves to another town or enters eternal glory.   “Lord, have mercy!”  We rejoice in God’s blessing through them and His continued gift of the saints still in our earthly fellowship.  On with the new. Disagreement over the color of the carpet or the use of the youth room or the time of the service or (insert your favorite silly argument here: ________).  “Lord, have mercy!”  We rejoice in the healing power of the gospel that reunited Jacob and Esau and can even reunite us.  On with the new. God fill you with JOY at His gift of “new.” Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry?  Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry.  Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.