6 x 6 For Lent

I find it’s good to be reminded occasionally, in plain English, of our mission here at Webster Hills UMC.

Here’s a version of our mission statement that the staff is currently using:

To make disciples by connecting in community, growing in depth, and serving one another.

Yeah, CONNECT, GROW, SERVE – those familiar words that have a home by the front door of the church building, on the west wall of the sanctuary lobby/narthex.

Our WHUMC staff is encouraged to use a goal-setting technique that’s based on this mission statement. It’s called ‘6 by 6.’ Every six weeks or so, we each make a little chart to answer the question: what 6 items will I complete in the coming six weeks, items that will move our ministry closer to our mission?

Having done that, we answer a couple of additional questions: how will I grow spiritually during this time, and how will I grow in knowledge? And then we add a reminder or two about things that we may want to include the next time we make a ‘6 by 6.’

Our next 6 by 6 is coming up just as Lent begins on February 14. In worship on Sunday, you heard about “Ashes to Go” in the CLC parking lot on Ash Wednesday morning and about the worship service that evening at 6:30 in Lewis Chapel (read about Ash Wednesday worship here).

And you may know that Lent is traditionally a time when Christians prepare for Easter through a focus on spiritual practice. It seems to me that – with a little tweaking – the ‘6 by 6’ technique might help anyone’s Lenten focus.

Funny how we’ve come to focus in Lent on “giving up” something. The ancient practice of abstaining from eating red meat during Lent lives on in the St. Louis church tradition of the fish fry, ‘abstention’ or ‘the practice of abstaining from’ being fancier church talk for “giving up.” Yeah, abstention means giving up entirely whatever it is – red meat, chocolate, coffee, social media. But fasting is a respectable spiritual practice, too; fasting means partaking less of whatever it is – red meat, chocolate, coffee, social media – than you usually do, but not necessarily giving it up completely.

It seems to me a Lenten ‘6 by 6’ can help me see the taking on or the taking up of a practice as just as spiritual as giving something up. What I take on might be as simple as a daily time of prayer or the all-church Lenten Bible study or “Going Deeper” Lenten devotional, ten glasses of water or 10,000 steps a day, or fifteen minutes of playing hymns at the piano. Or it might be as challenging as finishing a neglected book or project or regularly visiting a homebound neighbor.

Whatever you decide to take up or let go, and whatever your stage in life, I wish you the odd joy of a faithful Lent. Please be in touch if you’d like to talk further about your spiritual life in or out of the coming season.

Dr. Rev. Martha Robertson