I have been thinking a good bit lately about Mt. Carmel, more specifically, who we are and where we are going. One might assume that this is what I am often thinking about as a pastor. I’d like to have a dollar for every time my wife, Cindy, has asked me, “What are you thinking about?” or “Where are you, Bill?” Not always, of course—but sometimes, I have one ear tuned to “sports talk” or one eye on television or my nose in a book. Or maybe I’m just thinking about the week’s schedule. Oftentimes, however, my mind turns toward church—who are we and where are we going?
I realize more and more that such questions as these—church leadership questions—must include another: Where do I belong? Actually, it is probably a spiritual formation question. Truthfully, there is no church leadership or church health or church growth apart from personal transformation.
At Mt. Carmel we believe that being a Christ-follower is a journey. This faith journey moves us from connection (Worship) to community (Grow) and to compassion demonstrated in ministry to others (Serve). This movement is exemplified in the story of Jesus and his disciples in Luke 6:12-19. This story begins in solitude at night, moves to community building in the morning, and ends in active ministry in the afternoon:
… Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…. He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over…, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Jesus spent time on the mountain at night in prayer. He came down in the morning and formed his community of disciples. Then, in the afternoon, with his followers, he went out to heal the sick and proclaim the good news. I have been fascinated by the sequence of prayer at night, community in the morning, ministry in the afternoon. In my thinking, NIGHT, MORNING, and AFTERNOON become symbols for the movement we speak of at Mt. Carmel—from WORSHIP to GROWTH to SERVICE. This is the pattern of Jesus’ life. These are the three disciplines we are called to practice on the lifelong faith journey—Connection with God (Worship), recognizing and gathering in Community (Grow); and a ministry of Compassion in the world (Serve).
At Mt. Carmel this is our plan, our goal, our mission. We desire to inspire people along this journey of faith—enabling one another to worship, grow, and serve. It is linear. It is lifelong. It implies learning to live more like Jesus.
It seems to me that this is where we all belong.