As I am preparing to write this edition of the eWeekend, it is late Tuesday afternoon. A few minutes before I sat down at my desk, I briefly took a walk through the Sligo Sanctuary, and I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by its emptiness. But then I quickly reminded myself that in just a few short weeks, it would be filled with past, present, and possibly potential Sligo members, as we as a congregation will be taking part in our 10th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration. I know it seems hard to believe, but this will be the tenth year that we have taken part in what has become a grand celebration of God’s goodness and mercy on us as a community of faith. A congregation, mind you, that has been blessed with such richness of diversity, Sligo allows us each week to get a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
Our theme for this year’s celebration is “Going Deeper…Reaching Wider.” As I mentioned this past Sabbath, this is a theme that resonates with our mission here at Sligo to grow passionate disciples of Jesus. Not only is growing disciples Sligo’s mission, it is also the mission that Jesus has given to everyone who has made the decision to follow him. As you carefully examine the theme, it becomes apparent that the reason for reaching wider is because we are growing deeper. In other words, reaching wider as a church becomes a by-product of our going deeper.
One of the dangers for not just Sligo but any church is the potential to be so inwardly focused that we neglect the other part of what discipleship is all about, and that is helping to make other disciples. Regretfully, too often when we talk about the making of disciples, the focus is on the indoctrination of those who may think differently than we do. And because of this, we feel that once we have shared our beliefs with someone and they accept them, we have been true to our mission. But I invite you to take a look at a statement by Ellen G. White from the book The Ministry of Healing, page 143. She writes:
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
In this statement, it is clear that, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to go deeper even as we attempt to reach wider. To go deeper into the pain and needs of those within our community, not just with the sharing of our faith, but through living it out in very personal and yet tangible ways. Unless we are willing to go deeper as we reach wider, then we have not truly been faithful to our mission.
So as we prepare for our 10th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration on August 3rd, I challenge you to begin to reach out to those whom you no longer see here at Sligo as well as to those who are not currently a part of our faith. Then again, maybe they would be, if we only committed ourselves to reaching wider.