Studying scripture together is key to a compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren

By John Jantzi

“Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”

It seems a long time ago that the idea of a compelling vision was broached in 2017 at Annual Conference. Following is the original guiding statement of the Compelling Vision Working Group, adopted at the beginning of our work together.

“Confessing Jesus Christ as Teacher, Redeemer, and Lord, we desire to serve Him by proclaiming, professing, and walking in his way together bringing his peace to our broken world. Join us in reclaiming a new passion for Christ and helping set a course for our future as the Church of the Brethren serving him in our communities and in the world!”

This statement, along with our common commitment to scripture, set the trajectory for our work together. Many times during the last two years we reminded ourselves that these common confessions and commitments made our work worthwhile.

Much has been altered since the Compelling Vision process began. Some congregations have chosen to leave the Church of the Brethren, the need for structural reform in the church has become ever more evident, and COVID-19 has cast an aura of uncertainty regarding the future nature of congregational life.

Amid those significant dilemmas I suggest to you there is nothing more important than studying scripture together to deepen our common commitment to Christ. In the Dec. 21 issue of Newsline, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, chair of the Compelling Vison Working Group, outlined 13 Bible studies developed by a team of writers that build on the themes of the compelling vision. These studies will be released in mid-February with sample lessons coming in January. As study groups are organized, I encourage you to participate with other sisters and brothers.

We live in a vulnerable, fragile time. The compelling vision points us to the centrality of relationships standing at the heart of the gospel–relationship with our risen Lord, with fellow believers, and with people in our neighborhoods and communities. O Lord, soften our hearts to hear your voice and each other.

John Jantzi is district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Shenandoah District and a member of the Compelling Vision Working Group.


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