St. John the Apostle UMC is a

community of grace committed to making disciples

We live out this commitment in two areas beyond worship:

-a small group that nurtures our growth in grace-

-a place of ministry, witness, and service-


Interpretation:


St. John the Apostle is a community of grace.


Grace is central to our life together. That grace includes the gift of God’s grace, our growth in grace, living out of grace in relation to one another. God’s grace is what draws us together as a community. Grace - revealed by and expressed in Jesus’ life and teachings - is God’s way of relating to us. In relating to us out of grace, God accepts us unconditionally – just as we are, forgives us freely as a gift, embraces us as beloved children, lives in committed relationship with us, teaches us and nurtures our growth.


In this grace-based way of relating, God always takes the initiative - reaching out, inviting us, offering. We are always responding to God and to God’s initiative. The biblical term for our response is faith. God’s grace is rooted in who God is – in God’s divine character. It is not dependent upon who we are or what we do. It is always a gift that flows out of who God is.


Our experience of God’s grace shapes who we are – as individuals, as a community of grace. Thus, we are always growing in grace – learning what it means to relate out of grace, seeking to put what we are learning into practice.


Grace is foreign to the way of living and relating that we have been taught. Thus, we must learn God’s grace-based way of relating and grow in our ability to live it. We are trained to relate out of earning/deserving, merit/reward. From grades in school to pay checks on the job to “winning” another’s love, we are taught that people get what they deserve. This way of relating to God and to others is based upon self-effort – what I do. It is also rooted in fear – fear of rejection, fear of condemnation, fear of judgment. Out of this fear, we seek to gain the other’s approval and acceptance by what we do. We hide those parts of ourselves that we think will bring criticism or judgment. God’s grace removes the fear and frees us to live openly, without pretense – in relation to God, in relation to one another.


Thus, as a community shaped by God’s grace and growing in grace, we seek to live out of grace in relationship to one another – accepting each other as we are, forgiving each other freely as a gift, embracing each other as the children of God, walking in meaningful relationship with one another as we learn and grow together.


St. John the Apostle is a community of grace.


Being a community created by and shaped by God’s grace means we are intentional about sharing life together. We create spiritual friendships that enrich our lives and nurture our growth in grace. Involvement in small groups is the primary means by which such friendships are built. Every member is urged to find a small group of trusted spiritual friends that will nurture growth in grace.


As a community, each person is valued. Each person has gifts and abilities to contribute to our life together. As each offers their gifts, our life together is enriched, our ministry grows. Thus, we are committed to helping each person identify and offer his/her gifts in a place of ministry, witness and service for which each is uniquely suited. Every member is urged to find such a place of ministry, witness and service. 


St. John the Apostle is committed to making disciples.


Our reason for being is found in Jesus’ command to make disciples of all people, Matthew 28:19. 

A disciple is a follower of Jesus – a student learning the ways of God that Jesus taught. Thus, we are committed to learning and living the teachings of Jesus.


The disciple-making process is a life-long process – rooted in God’s work of grace in our lives, shaping us by that grace to be grace-full people – like Jesus. As we grow in grace, we move through the stages of discipleship: from unbeliever to seeker, from seeker to believer, from believer to eager learner, from eager learner to disciple (one whose life is shaped by the teachings of Jesus), from disciple to apostle (one involved in a lifestyle of ministry and witness and giving).


This disciple-making process involves helping others respond to God’s grace (evangelism) as well as growing in grace ourselves – spiritual growth, spiritual formation. 


St. John the Apostle is committed to making disciples.


Being committed means our focus is clear. We exist for one purpose – to make disciples: to live in relationship with God, growing in God’s grace and living that grace in all of our relationships, while helping others respond to that grace in their own lives. Thus, every aspect of our life together – every group, every ministry, every program - is dedicated to the purpose of making disciples.