There’s a billboard on Mormon Coulee Road in La Crosse that has been catching my eye. It advertises Pepsi Cola. The back ground is blue and white letters spell out a compelling tag line. When I first saw it, I read the word “Awesome!” The ‘o’ of that word is the Pepsi logo.
Now that I’ve seen the sign a few times, I’ve realized that there’s more to it than I first observed. The Pepsi logo also divides the word “Awesome” into two words: “Awes Me!” Depending on how you look at it, you see different things.
For many months I’ve been thinking and writing about our congregation’s biggest challenge, the necessity of moving from decline to growth. I’ve been working on a compelling and simple tagline to give us direction.
A compelling tagline communicates purpose and direction. Pepsi’s marketing department came up with one that communicates well. They want us to know that their product is “Awesome!” At the same time, they want you to know that it will awe you. For this reason, their carefully worded ad has punch.
When the church talks about purpose and direction it reaches to the words of scripture. A compelling scripture comes to mind. It was our centering word a few months back and it comes from the book of Matthew. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you, and remember, I am with you always.”
According to St. Matthew, these are the final words of Jesus to his followers. He utters them just before the ascension. They are final instructions for the ones left to carry on Christ’s mission: Make disciples of all by baptizing and teaching. This is the direction Jesus intends for all who follow him.
We need a tagline to describe our Church, a memorable phrase to help us know our direction. Here’s what I hope could serve as a faithful tagline for our congregation: “A discipling Community for All Ages.”
I like this short phrase because it calls us to remember the mission Jesus gives the church: that of making disciples. At the same time it communicates that disciples are nurtured when they are enveloped by the love of the Christian community, that the community of the Church is essential to the task of discipleship.
The inclusion of “for all Ages” does double duty. On the one hand it calls us to remember that we are called to disciple people in such a way that the discipleship is lived out for a life time, and that Christ’s mission is ours for all of time. It was first given us when Jesus called the church to this task before his ascension nearly two thousand years ago.
On the other hand, “for all ages” call us to remember that the church is a discipling community for people in all their various stages of life: young, old, middle aged or other. We need to reclaim this part of the call of Jesus. For right now, we are missing significant age groups from among us. I suspect that I’ll write more about the “all ages” emphasis of this tagline in a future post to this blog.
Having a compelling tagline does not change much until it guides us in our work, worship, and ministry. When it is compelling among us, we will find ourselves frequently asking the following question when considering our various undertakings: How well does this activity help us be “A Discipling Community for All Ages.”
Listen for this phrase in the weeks ahead. In your prayer time, ask God to direct us in the ministries of discipleship for people of all ages.