As you probably know, the church council has been meeting in small groups and studying Andy Stanley's excellent book, "7 Practices of an Effective Ministry". One of those practices is something called "clarifying the win."
"Clarifying the win" means to sit down, think it out, and then communicate what a goal looks like when it's acheived. For a baseball team it's pretty obvious: at the end of a game you have more runs on the scoreboard than the other team. That's a "win." But for a church it can get a little complicated. There's so many things that look on the surface to be a win. More people in the pews. Higher weekly offerings. People growing in Christ. Babies getting baptized. And the list goes on and on.
In our “7 Practices” small groups, one question I heard asked again and again was, “What’s the win? What’s the win for Our Saviour?”
I had an answer that swum around in the back of my head, but it was hard for me to articulate. I knew it had something to do with fulfilling our mission statement of bringing our neighbors into Christ’s chosen family. After all, if that’s our mission, then fulfilling that MUST be a win, right? But then the question was asked, “What does that look like? How do we know when we’ve actually done it?”
I’ve got the answer. Well, honestly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer has given me the answer. Final chapter of Life Together, final page . . . final paragraph:
“The day of the Lord’s Supper is an occasion of joy for the Christian community. Reconciled in their hearts with God and the brethren, the congregation receives the gift of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and, recieinv that, it receives forgives, new life, and salvation. It is given new fellowship with God and men. The fellowship of the Lord’s Supper is the superlative fulfillment of Christian fellowship. As the members of the congregation are united in body and blood at the table of the Lord so will they be together in eternity. Here the community has reached its goal. Here joy in Christ and his community is complete. The life of Christians together under the Word has reached its perfection in the Sacrament.”
There’s the win. Forgiven and redeemed sinners gathering together as the community of Christ around His Sacrament. Neighbors no longer, but full members of the Body of Christ, each of us joined together by grace through His Supper.