“When a church is driven by member preference, it is headed toward decline, then death. The decline may be protracted and the death may be delayed, but it is inevitable.” Thom Rainer
Ouch. I know it’s not a particularly “Easter” thought. I squirm as I type it. I saw this quote in my Facebook feed a couple months ago, however, and I haven’t been able to shake it.
Often, our “church” conversations focus on what we like and/or what we don’t like – our preferences. I like that hymn. I don’t like that service time. I like when we use screens. I don’t like when we have midweek Lenten services in the Fellowship Hall. I like when we pass the peace. I don’t like when pastor has us talk to one another during the sermon.
In committee meetings, I’ve been pushing folks to ask different questions. Not “what did you like?” But “what did you notice?” and “what are we learning?” Were people more or less engaged? What stirred in your soul? Were you challenged or comforted? Who was missing? Who were new faces for you? What will you take with you into your week? In the long run, those questions are much more helpful, much more focused on growth and new life.
This morning I heard rumors that the gym I go to may be changing locations. My first response was “noooo.” I like where it is now. It’s convenient. I can go home, change my clothes, and walk there. It’s the right size for me. But I also know that the owner has a vision – to grow a community of women who support one another in getting fit and promoting wholeness. Even though I might not prefer the changes, I want to honor that vision and what it might take for that vision to become ever more real in the life of the community.
In the church, we are gathered around a vision and a commission. To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. To go and make disciples, baptizing in the name of the Holy Trinity. To feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to heal the sick, to set free the oppressed. To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed. To strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
So, Easter people of God, what do you notice? What are we learning?
Yours in Christ,