Being Stewards of ... Going Deep

Being Stewards of … Going Deep

No, this is not a reflection on mining, nor am I pondering the idea of deep sea diving, nor is my focus hypnosis. My concern is you and me and our faith in Jesus.

Our pastors, associates in ministry, and synodically authorized ministers in February 2010 identified that one of their chief concerns about us disciples of Jesus in Lutheran Churches in the Allegheny Synod is that our faith in Jesus is more likely weak than strong; more superficial than substantive; and unfortunately shallow rather than deep. If our leaders’ assessment is accurate, which I tend to believe it is, it is no wonder that we feel insecure and rootless in our daily lives, occasionally floundering, and sometimes overwhelmed in the midst of formidable challenges and personal troubles that occur as a natural part of everyone’s life. Some persons doubt that faith in God will do anything for them in those moments of turmoil, pain, and disruption. Other persons cross their fingers and expect that faith will carry them in those moments … even when their faith relationship with Jesus is weak, undisciplined, and poorly grounded in God’s Word.

But a faith-life that is not regularly conditioned will often fail due to the force of stress and pressure that naturally come with life. Past generations made devotions, prayer, and church-life a priority in their lives to nourish their faith. We, on the other hand, neglect to intentionally nourish and deepen our relationship with our Lord. Average worship attendance is on the decline, we are so busy. Participation in Sunday Church School is of no or low priority in many people’s lives. Active Bible studies most often include only a faithful handful. We pray infrequently. We act as if everything we have is ours and fewer and fewer of us are able to articulate who Jesus is and why he is important to us. In our best moments we believe that God is unnecessary in our lives, while in our worst moments our lives are reeling and in disarray for we have no anchor.

If our spirituality, that is, our worship life, our commitment to delving into Scripture, and our engagement in faith practices of serving, inviting, praying, encouraging, and giving are no longer priorities for us, the result, my partner disciples, is a faith that is thin and without foundation and substance.

The Synod Council recognizes the significance of this concern and has enlisted a seven person task force with the staff of the Office of the Bishop to renew the call to a daily, deepening spiritual journey that utilizes the seven faith practices of worship, prayer, study, serving, encouraging, inviting and giving. This fall the staff, me, members of Synod Council and this task group are going to encourage us to ponder how we can delve into God’s Word to deepen and strengthen our faith … not tomorrow, but TODAY! In October and November we will be coming to your ‘neck of the woods’ to invite you to go deep, gain direction and grow disciples ... beginning with YOU! I hope you will be one of those persons who attends … and leaves with a contagious desire to ‘infect’ the rest of your faith community to be confident, hope-filled disciples of Jesus by immersing ourselves in a daily, spiritual journey wherein we engage God and one another. Watch your congregational bulletin and newsletter for date, time, and location … or check out the synod webpage.

Hey, then, no matter what our lives require – whether it is being reminded that we are creatures of a creating God; or whether it is remembering that profound promise of life and salvation in our baptisms; or whether it is confidence, hope and peace of mind to help us ‘weather’ the storms of life … a deepened relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ is the answer! I look forward to sharing this journey of deepening and growing a faith relationship with God ... and with one another.                 +Bishop Pile