We were returning from a conference in North Carolina and it seemed to be the shortest route to where we were going. The pastor who lived in the area said that there was a good restaurant on the way. Seven hours later, after discovering that there was no such thing as a short route through the mountains of West Virginia (the ups and downs and curves around mountains were not on the map), we pulled into the “4U Restaurant and Motel” (which was 5 minutes from closing, but they fed us cold sandwiches and coffee since our short cut still had two more hours before we located the church we were seeking.) (We missed the “good” restaurant by a half mile when we went right instead of left.) Ten years later, there is some debate about whose decision it was to take the “shortcut” through the West Virginia maze of mountains. I learned an important lesson on that trip through the wilderness that it is not only important to know where you are going, but that you best give serious thought to how you are going to get there.
As Christians and as a Christian community, we may have some general ideal of what God wants us to be, but do we give serious thought to how we will get there. At the conference we were given some characteristics that mark the Christian and the Christian community. I would like to share these with you not as a new set of rules or the only guidelines, but as a place to start to give serious thought about who we are a Christians and as a Christian community of faith and where we are going. For not only where we hope to go, but how we get there will determine who we will be or not be as a community of faith.
Ten Characteristics that Mark the Life of Commitment to Jesus Christ
1. Trusting in a personal Christ.
2. Understanding grace and living in grace.
3. Communing with God regularly.
4. Demonstrating moral responsibility.
5. Accepting responsibility in a congregation.
6. Demonstrating unprejudiced and loving lives.
7. Accepting authority and being personally responsible.
8. Having a hopeful and positive attitude.
9. Participating in rituals of a Christian community.
10. Engaging in mission and service.
Characteristics of a Christian Community
1. A Hospitable Climate
2. Inspirational Worship
3. A Caring Environment
4. A Thinking Climate
5. Families Who Help Families
6. An Emphasis on Prayer
7. Intergenerational Service Efforts
8. A Sense of Mission
As we move into the future, what will we be?