Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Well, Crap.

They pulled the plug on my cool little church. I'm not really happy about it at all. Is God in control? Yes. Am I glad Jesus saved me? Of course. Will this cause me to be an enemy of society? No way, eh? (Quick, which movie am I alluding to?) No more than usual anyway... ;->

So what now? I am extremely unhappy being put in the position of having to find a church. I have a friend who has lived here since college and he still is looking for a church. (We're pushing 15 years or better outside of the wonderful never never land of college...)

There are always options. I have already been invited back to my parents' church. Perhaps I could round up the core folks who are game and keep meeting under a new banner and new denomination or none. I could take a couple months off. There are too many variables to be able to come to a good decision right now.

I got the news this morning. My pastor called to let me know. We'll meet for 3 more weeks. Then no mas... I was really hoping that they would give us at least 6 more months. I really think that we would have seen a turn had we been given just a little more time.

Here comes the real question - the one I have been dealing with all day. The one that has been securely locked into the closet in the back of my mind several times, but keeps escaping... the question is, "Why should this change anything about my mission to this area? Why should it change the mission of any of our core members?"

Forgive me a Faulkneresque moment. See, the mission that has been solidifying for our little church is this:

Our purpose here is to go beyond the comfort and security of our own homes and our congregation and begin to make connections with our neighbors, learning to be friends and good neighbors. In doing these things we will begin to have more and more opportunities to show our neighbors – the oikos* that God has given us – the goodness and beauty of our Lord.

*Oikos is a Greek word that roughly means 'one's sphere of influence.' Or at least that's how I'm using it!

We had been making moves to see this mission be carried out, but the mission crystallized too late, and we ran out of runway before it even began to bear any fruit.

So back to the question at hand. And of course the answer is that it should not change our mission at all. Whether we are a church or whether we are members of another body or whether we aren't gathering to worship anywhere, this mission shouldn't change.

The reason that I have confined this question to quarters is that it would be so easy for an introvert like me to say, "Well, that's too bad. We were going to reach out to our community, but no point now since there isn't any church to bring them to." I could easily return to the comfort and security of my little cocoon (Who am I kidding? Mine is pretty dang big!) and let my neighbors and my town continue on down the pathway to hell.

Well, when you put it like that.... DANG! I don't want folks to go to hell. It makes it kind of hard to pout when you say it that way. <sigh>

But there are so many times when I feel like I am stuck in pre-Lucy Narnia: always winter, never Christmas... Always expected to do the right thing when the reward is left way out there somewhere. That's the way this feels.

It was hard enough beating my will into submission to get on board with the church's mission to reach out. At least when it was the church's mission I could count on a group to be there to encourage me when I was feeling insecure about reaching out. The dissolution of the church doesn't necessarily end that, but let's face it, without some structure and organization it is going to be a WHOLE lot more difficult to fulfill the mission and a WHOLE lot easier to just not bother. Now it has to be MY mission. Frankly, I'm not sure I am up to it.

Do I know that I should be glad about all of this and say, "Yay! Change is fun. Change is good. God is in control! Something better is bound to be coming!" Sure I do. My flesh has just vetoed that response for the moment. I'm sure God will eventually get my head screwed on straight. Until then, I'll probably vent a little bit.

So there you go. This is what I have been dealing with today. Hey, if you can't be transparent with billions of people all over the world, who can you be transparent with? At least I got to play with power tools in my dad's wood shop today. Back to computer stuff tomorrow.


dp said...

Good, honest, transparent post. The Church (and our society in general) could use a lot more of that.

The very first sentence is interesting. "They pulled the plug on my cool little church." Let's break that down. First, "pulled the plug." Did they unhook God's power from the folks in the church? Nope. I don't think the power of God is gone. Like you said later, the "structure and organization" is gone.

"...my cool little church." Yes, it can be said that it was 'your' church in as much as you went there and were in the leadership, but the fact is it is part of God's Church (big C). God's Church spans denominations and continents. It spans lifetimes of leaders. It survives 'reorganizations' and scandals. It is a living (in the fullest sense of the word) and breathing (yet again...in the fullest sense of the word) person...namely the Bride.

I don't know what the future holds for you and the folks who met at this particular location, but now that the organization has been unplugged, what's left is what God has been doing there. Maybe He's regrouping folks. Maybe He's testing folks to see if they've been plugged into the organization instead of plugged into Him. Maybe He is testing to see if folks can respect the leadership and authority He has placed there. Who knows...God's ways are higher than our ways. And He deals personally with each individual in His own way and timing. It's a personal thing.

"At least I got to play with power tools in my dad's wood shop today."

May you continue to use the Power Tools your Father has for you for the building up of the saints.

Jonathan said...

Thanks, DP. The things that you have said are very true, and it is good to be reminded of them. My church family and I certainly need your prayers as we are trying to discern the Lord's purpose and will in this situation. Lord, please send wisdom! Thanks for your friendship and encouragement.