“But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift…The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” -Ephesians 4:7, 11-13
In 2019, a group of leaders gathered to begin the work of this Strategic Plan. It was an exciting time: Muhlenberg was in the midst of a period of great transition, and energy for forward momentum was high. Over the course of several Congregational Council retreats, the beginnings of this plan were sketched out. We could not have dreamed that very soon the world would be forever changed by a global pandemic and work on this plan would have to be set aside to attend to the immediate concerns of being church in this strange new world.
But this work was not forgotten, and revisiting the plan over the fall and winter of 2020 revealed that while our methods may change (hello, digital ministry!) our core commitments remain. Guided in particular by the fourth chapter of Ephesians, our leaders explored together what it means to live within God’s grace. We are held by the calling of God, given to one another by the Spirit, and united in Christ who is the head of the whole body. We are gifted in many diverse ways, and brought together to share those gifts for the sake of the world. As we strive to be a wellspring of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we live out our mission to equip all people to live out Christ’s love. The title of this document, therefore, is Equipping the Saints. We envision our congregation as a place for spiritual growth, deepened relationships, and transformational love. When we gather, we are equipped to participate in faith practices that nourish and nurture our lifelong growth as children of God. This plan is a road map for the next several years as we seek to learn and grow together.
What this plan is not, however, is finished. We intend this to be a living document, constantly being updated and shaped and formed by the gifts of every member of the Muhlenberg community. As you read, feel free to get out a pen and start marking this document with the dreams God has placed on your heart. Find ways to engage in the living out of these plans and bring the gifts you have been given. Each and every one of us has the responsibility of ensuring the success of this plan. In 1849, when a small group of Lutherans gathered to form a congregation in the newly-incorporated town of Harrisonburg (population 713), they likely could not have dreamed that their humble gathering would grow into the Muhlenberg Lutheran Church we know today. Likewise, as we approach our 175th anniversary as a congregation, we have no way of knowing what the next 175 years will bring. But like that faithful group of founders, we trust that the Holy Spirit is leading us forward, united in Christ, equipping us for the work of ministry in this place. Thanks be to God!
-Pastor Lauren Eanes and Pastor Alex Zuber, April 15, 2021
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church 281 East Market Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801