By Miriam Rossow
St. Luke’s mission is broken into three categories: Reach Up, Reach In, Reach Out. These categories help focus our discipleship walk as we first remember that we receive everything from God, and it is only through being connected to Him that we can grow in our relationship with Him and with those He puts in our life.
We want the website to be a place where everyone can grow and be nurtured in their faith. We want it to have content that can be interacted with and shared easily.
One of the main content providers for our website is our response to worship. As our writers worship, they are positioning themselves to be ready to receive and hear what God will give them in that worship. As they go into their week, they reflect on one thing they received in worship and how that can affect their relationships in their week.
Weekday Worship by Lydia Jentzen Will is a beautiful example of taking worship into your life. She lets us take a peek into her everyday living and how worship fills it. She does not have all the answers, but asks the question what would it look like if I lived this out everyday? She is vulnerable and honest as she shares how the experience of worship and scripture are lived out in a day-to-day busy schedule.
In Once Upon a Time … Happily Ever After I take the very normal idea of fairy tales and happy endings and apply it to Jesus and the second coming. As I watched a TV show in the middle of my normal week, I was reminded of Sunday! We want Sunday to affect your everyday week. We want you to question and grow and learn in all your conversations and activities. The message of Sunday should come back to you and penetrate your week.
Given for You … Really by Pastor Scott Giger can be used to help prepare us for worship. Worship is God giving us His blessings, gifts, word, and self. As we come to worship we are first there to receive these things from God and secondly to respond with praise. Worship is about what God does for us and so we come with hearts ready to receive. Understanding things about our service can help us prepare to receive.
Our God is a God of relationships. He created Eve as a suitable helper for Adam. He gave them children to add to their family. He is a God who took care of the fallen world with a personal touch.
As we follow this personal God, we too live in relationships. We have relationships with our families, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and church family. All of these relationships are important to our faith walk.
We want to share our journey with those around us. Through the website and blogs, we connect with those in our church family. We hear stories of faith struggles and joys. We hear stories of faith questions and affirmations. We hear stories that encourage and uplift us.
Amanda Easterday reflects on the women’s retreat in Still, Small Voice, which was an experience to draw her closer to God and to the other ladies in the church. She not only brings us in on the women’s retreat experience, but gives us some words of hope and encouragement on our faith walk.
Sometimes we have questions about our faith or something that has happened in our life. In I Was Baptized by Nazi Spy Pastor Rossow explores the issue of what makes a baptism valid. It is God’s action! This story is also a wonderful example of a family learning something new about a great grandmother’s faith walk and sharing in each other’s discipleship walk.
These stories that are shared draw us closer to each other. As we grow closer to each other we learn more about our God and how He loves and cares for us in a personal way.
The website is also a place where we can support, uplift, encourage, and teach people as we go through difficult situations such as death and loss. Articles like Hope in a Time of Mourning by Pastor Dan are not only helpful in the immediate situation, they are also helpful as a similar future situation arises. In this way we are both strengthening the relationships in our community and helping the relationships outside our community.
The website is not just for those already connected to St. Luke and Jesus. The website is a tool to connect those who have not heard of the love of Jesus.
In this social media age most people look for information online before they visit in person. They are also very aware of advertisements and sales pitches. Our blogs and information on the website want to give solid information and allow everyone to take a step closer to knowing the Jesus who died for them.
Sharing the blogs and writing reviews is an important way to give St. Luke an online presence. As we continue to build that presence we in turn draw people closer to Jesus. When you share your favorite blogs with your 100 or more Facebook friends it allows them to see the church as a place that affects people in real ways. Seth Hinz from the Michigan District explores this in his blog 3 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Church.
There are many stories of how our website and blogs have touched those who are not directly connected to our St. Luke family. Most of them go something like this email I recently received: “I told a friend I was famous and directed him to a quote on the webpage to prove it to him. When he went to look at the quote he was drawn to an article about a crazy kid running around, A Changed Heart. He is not a Christian, but he does have children so he read the article and in turn sent the article onto his wife.”
As we grow in our relationships with our God and each other, we are able to share through our blogs and website a hope with those around us. We are able to show in a very real way why this faith is so important. We are able to share this very Jesus with those around us.
We have stories of how our faith is lived out in real life such as Valor: Giving With Nothing to Gain. Here is a story that was lived by a St. Luke member. It not only shows how we can be Christ in real situations to those around us. It also shows how something on our website can be picked up by the community. Not only was Austin honored by the sheriff’s department, this story was also picked up and shared by local agencies.
As we share insights into our faith walk, like Rachael Varblow does in Raising Servants, we allow people to see a heart that yearns to know more. We allow people to share in our journey and grow along with us. We allow people to see God as more than just a law maker. They see God through the eyes of His people. They see Jesus and His deep love for His people, ALL people.
The website is also a place to find out information about what is happening in our church community: activities such as the Homeless Shelter, call processes such as our Discipleship position, and policy such as Affirming our Leaders. Even through these activities that are mostly helpful to the current St. Luke community, people can learn how we interact with each other. They learn and see where we put our values. They begin to understand how we deal with stress, loss, and joy and even how we view those not in our church family.
As we continue on this journey, I look forward to growing in my relationship with Jesus, with those in the St. Luke family, and with those in the community who come in contact with us.
May the website continue to be a tool that connects everyone with Jesus as we grow together in our faith.