God’s Love in Action
Paradise Valley United Methodist Church’s Scriptural Foundation for our Mission and Vision Comes from Romans 8:9-14:
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! (The Message)
We are a people alive in the Spirit. Romans 8 describes life in the Spirit and God’s immense work in us. Paul says “If the alive and present God who raised Jesus from dead moves into your life, he’ll do same thing in you he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.” We all want God to live and breathe in us. One of principal claims in scripture is that God is love and God’s love is visible and active. The New Testament says plainly: “Don’t merely say that we love each other; let us show truth by our actions.” We put love into action as we: ignite faith, transform lives and create community.
We believe God calls us to ignite faith in people’s lives. We help God’s spark to burn, and keep it alight. As a church, we are called to fan the flames of faith.
When John was baptizing people down at the Jordan River, he told them that when Jesus “comes he will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.” (Matthew 3:11-12) God is the match and we help faith to ignite by the way we live, including the way we treat others, help others, work with others, do mission, extend mercy and practice justice. Helping people notice their spiritual hunger and providing ways to fill it is part of our calling.
Faith can start in many ways within us: as a longing for meaning, or for a desire for that intangible spiritual strength that overcomes life’s most insurmountable obstacles. Faith can grow from a longing to latch on to something that seems right when the world behaves in such abysmal ways.
God’s gift of faith transforms lives. This is God’s best work. The old in us becomes new. Dead places come alive. Muddled places get clarity. The weak become strong. When we are alive in the Spirit, God begins to change us. For some of us this is sudden. For many of us it is slow and steady. Maybe transformation begins quietly, with a question working on us. We know we cannot transform ourselves. It takes God’s power and initiative to bring real change.
Our world is desperate & lonely for healthy community. We want a place to belong and to become what God desires. We long for it. People who call the Valley of the Sun home may not be here year-round, or they may have come from somewhere else. Our mission is to create an authentic community at PVUMC where people can walk a pathway of faith, without fear or judgment, and become alive to God with the support of others.
Our Vision Is: Love That Crosses All Barriers and Embraces All People.
Our vision grows out of our mission. We aspire to live out this love as God’s people. The world is full of barriers that divide and separate. We encounter these regularly, the problems and categories that divide us so painfully across political lines, socio-economic and class status, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, those who have faith and those who are fearful or distant from faith and the church. The biblical story and the witness of Jesus Christ is to bring God’s saving love into the world, embracing all, crossing any human boundary. The love from God we are called to live and carry into the world is active, merciful, faithful and courageous. It takes us to new places and people. It takes us to difficulties, problems and circumstances where God is desperately needed. God’s love unlocks the barriers we have created inside and outside of ourselves. It sets us free.
We’ve all encountered barriers to love. We humans have this way of setting limits, passing judgments, restricting love or making it conditional and transactional. All of us have met such limited versions of love at one time or another, but God’s love is different. Jesus redefined God’s concern for the world. We follow that example in our vision as we share the grace of Jesus Christ. God’s suffering and forgiving love that was crucified did in fact rise again. God’s love can even move across the barrier of death itself!
Our Strategic Plan 2018-2020
We trust and believe God has a great future ahead for Paradise Valley and these plans will help us to focus our ministries and resources, build on the strengths of our church and draw people to God’s great gift of love in Jesus Christ. The Church Council adopted these three new strategic priorities at its October 2017 meeting. The 2017-2020 plan foresees:
1. PVUMC to be an All-Embracing Church
We will be fully living out our vision: A Love that crosses all barriers and embraces all people and also living out our invitational statement, which was adopted by the Church Council at its February 2017 meeting and says:
“We invite you to join us on a shared journey of life and faith, open to all, regardless of age, ability, economics, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, politics, theology or anything else that might separate us from each other. Whoever you are and wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, you’re invited to walk with Christ in community with all of God’s children, and embrace the endless possibilities of God’s unconditional love.”
Our desire is to be a more diverse church with a greater outward focus. We embrace all people as children of God, which is consistent with living out our faith and giving us an opportunity to have a more healthy church. In this priority, we will help the church to:
• Explore and Discover–identifying which groups of people the Church is not attending to.
• Learn and Equip–including developing our Finding Common Ground series.
• Serve and Act – put our plans for being an All-Embracing Church into motion and action.
• Market and Advocate – market, communicate what we do at PVUMC and also advocate for those groups brought to our attention who have often been left out.
Ministries that are currently underway for this priority include:
• Diversity Ministry Team (working on LGBTQ Issues)
• Open Table (a model of transformation to move young adults and others in need toward independence)
• Common Ground Learning and Equipping Track (read about the Common Ground series launched in 2017)
• Invitational and Welcoming Strategies (see above)
• Growing Young Church Paradigm Transformation
• Special Needs/Disabilities Initiative
• Targeted Learning Opportunities
• Refugee Assistance and Friendship Teams (RAFT)
2. PVUMC to be an All-Engaging Church
In this priority, we will be fully living out our discipleship. Many times, people in the church ask: “What does God want from us?” but the more hopeful question really is this: “What does God want FOR each of us?” Here, we are creating an environment in which we may be individually and collectively alive in the Spirit, transformed and immersed in God’s love. Each of us desires a life that is fully engaged in mind, heart, body, and spirit. When we are involved in God’s work, and in the life of God’s church, we are dedicated to transforming God’s world. An All-Engaging Church calls us to move and grow in our faith as we strive to be a church where everyone is living out their spiritual gifts. We have a high expectation for involvement in the ministries of the church so that members may fully share their time, talents, gifts and witness.
In this priority, we will help the church to:
• Continue developing vibrant small groups through our Journeys small groups at pvumc
• Communicate to all that they are invited to “PLUG IN.”
• Assist newcomers and members in knowing the blessings of what they will receive from fully engaging with PVUMC (community, relationships, support, spiritual growth).
• Encourage ministry teams and small groups to do outreach annually and actively participate in mission opportunities.
• Create a mentor group for new members to help them become engaged.
• Enhance communication and awareness of the ways to engage.
• Utilize people’s gifts and talents, even if it is different than we have done before.
• Equip people to be invitational beyond just greeting them.
3. PVUMC to be A Church In the Community
Vibrant, growing churches do not sit in the church building waiting for people to come. Growing churches are involved in the community and actively listening to the people in the community. We see the community as an extension of our congregation. PVUMC is a regional church and we will work to meet people where they are, understanding the community through relationships; engaging with civic leaders, schools, and community organizations so there are ways and places to talk easily about church and faith. People want to be invested in a church that they feel good about. We need to help change people’s perception about what churches are about and what OUR church is about. We will work to become visible and important to the community and seen as a resource.
How can we be in a relationship with those living and working in our community and better understand their needs?
• Have ministry teams and small groups meet off-site at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, parks, etc.
• Come up with creative ways to promote the church, encourage members to share Facebook posts, and distribute more press releases to local media, who will share our news and stories.
• Create short-term and long-term opportunities for service and tailor them for the various stages of life.
• Create small groups that engage with families in the community, such as Bible studies, dinner groups, and mission opportunities.
• Foster an outward-looking orientation, sharing stories and mission moments with others about how involvement in the community has helped others and us.
• Offer to invite friends to groups.
• Share more with our community about the transformation that comes through faith.
• Invite various groups to meet on campus, like PFLAG or other LGBTQ support groups; Boy and Girl Scouts, and step programs like AA.
• Host health fairs and showcase the talents of local and traveling choirs and musical groups.
Adopted by PVUMC Church Council, 10/24/17
2017 Planning Retreat/Strategic Priorities Summary