The 5 S Method for being the church

Romans 12: 1-2 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – NLT

It was Pastor Todd Doxzon of Love Church in Omaha Nebraska that caught my attention. I was listening to him on a podcast a few months ago and the way that he laid out the vision for his church struck me. There were different pieces of the puzzle that he was putting together for me and as I went to their church website, I realized what our church needed to do, what we needed to embrace, and what we should look like to each other and our community. From everything that I have been learning and reading, I came up with the 5 S Method for being the church. The identity of the church from Acts 2 was one of family and community. They not only participated in this life with each other, they existed to help and serve each other, all while praying together and learning the disciples teaching together. The 5 S Method for me came from Romans 12. Surrender from Romans 12: 1-2. Our fruitless striving to do everything on our own will only bring us to the limitations we have within ourselves. If we desire true sustainable change, then we will have to come to the end of our own strength and rely on the strength that comes from God. How can we look different and live a life that does not look like the world?

Surrounded from Romans 12: 9-10. The people we surround ourselves with are imperative to our spiritual growth. As much as we may want to believe it, we cannot have a growing spiritual relationship with God outside of the fellowship with others. Other people will be imperative to our growth and the growth of the church. When we are focused on our upward relationship with God, it changes us inwardly. This leads to a change in the outward relationships that we have with other people.

Spirit-Led from Romans 12: 13-18. We must allow our churches and ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. The early church never moved or grew until the disciples allowed the Holy Spirit to lead and direct them. That direction led them to care for each other, provide for each other’s needs, and continue to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Self-Fed from Romans 12: 19-21. We must learn to feed ourselves from the table of God’s Word. Unfortunately for us, many of our recent leaders have been shown as the one leader of all things. This leads us to rely on them for our own spiritual maturity. What happens when that leader fails, or leaves us? We must be willing participants and take responsibility for our own growth as well as learn how to study and feed ourselves if we want to see change.

Sent from Romans 12: 36-40. An active thriving and growing church is one that is sent into our community. The church that was formed with the power of the Holy Spirit was never intended to be stagnant. The first disciples were told by Jesus to go into the world. They were told to continue the teachings of Jesus, as well as baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. An actively outward church will see growth and will be sustained by the Spirit, and people within our community will be the ones reaping the benefits of our efforts. My prayer is that 2023 will see us make sustainable change, independently as well as corporately, for a better future for the body of Christ as whole (not a specific denomination) and for our community.

By Pastor Michael Mitchell

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The writer is the pastor for Maplewood and DeGraff United Methodist Churches.