A Church on the Brink

If you aren’t related to me by blood, and/or didn’t know me at the time, this week’s sermon tells the story of my call to ordained ministry. If that sort of thing interests you, it’s available at my semi-permanent archive-in-progress here.

This was one of those weeks where I could feel it; this church is so ready for *something*. There’s this enormous amount of potential energy that just needs a teeny shove to become kinetic. I have no idea if I am even capable of providing this shove, but I hope I can. There are these little bands of people, right now not connected to one another, who are getting these excited looks in their eyes, and I want to do something with that before the spark fades away. At the same time, attendance was down, and our budget is bleeding already. It’s an unbelievable tension of already and not yet, of potential for growth and exciting things and potential for the long slow death of lost passion and irrelevance.

One really positive thing that’s been happening is that a couple of really powerful people in the church have been stepping back from their over-functioning roles and taking a break, focusing only on those gifts they really enjoy giving and feel called to give. This allows forces other people to step forward, ready or not, and take on some leadership, while at the same time freeing my established leaders to lead from their passion rather than their sense of obligation to plug the holes in the dam. Now, all we need as a church is for the new leaders to come forward. If only we knew how to empower rather than manipulate.

If only I did.

That’s my next challenge: to take this potential, now seen in some established leaders, some emerging leaders, and some new folks who’ve wandered in, and do more than say “sounds good; run with that.” That’s what I feel like I do. There’s an extremist kind of response from me to someone trying to do something–I either take it over to make it work (because any idea important enough to do is important enough for *me* to do, since we all know I’m the only one God can use to do things–see sermon…), or I tell the person to go ahead with it, but clearly don’t give them enough of what they need to carry through because time and time again great ideas just sort of fade away. So I’m in search of this new skill, and I am desperately trying to hold on to what I saw Sunday– a glimmer, a light, in the eyes of nearly every person in the congregation, a belief that maybe what I was saying was true–maybe God could use them, and maybe the Holy can call us as a body to something greater, deeper, more true to the Way of discipleship.

I have eight hundred ideas: a community garden on our massive lawn, an independent prayer ministry, with several groups at different times, a play group or mom’s group for the new young moms we’ve been attracting, a book study of The Irresistible Revolution, a local project to help the kids in town since the Boys and Girls Club was forced to close.

Hanging on there.

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