The question of, “What difference will this make, really?” is one that seems to keep coming up in the conversations I have been having so far. Is this just smoke and mirrors to make something appear different? If so, then whom are we trying to impress? These questions, I feel, are rooted in the idea that what we are already doing is fine. We love our group of people and we like (or liked it) the way it is (or was). What is the logical outworking of continuing to do what we are and have been doing?
Is it just me that is thinking beyond any one individual church, to what could be if we united around the vision of creating a place where all can find the transforming love of God made real? I understand that this is a stretch, because none of us want to lose ‘turf’. None of these three congregations want to go backwards. None of them want to lose any current members. While I cannot control people’s reactions to how we are currently moving forward, and as a result we likely will lose some people at least at first, I can say that each step of navigation is aimed at moving us into a vital future. Right now is a time when the road is going to be a little rocky. Things are not going to go exactly as we would like, these are opportunities for us to learn how to plant each step down firmly.
While I have only been a part of these congregations for a little more than 8 months, two have been in existence for over 100 years. Those two have had some better days than what they are experiencing now. How did they get to their hay days? They took risks. Do we blame the current culture that things are not better? The reality is there are many things that happened, and when things go sour we suddenly have an outward focus, looking at and pointing fingers as to why they are going sour.
I was not a part of your collective pasts. I have barely heard a sliver of the history, the pain and challenges that many were a part of, for better or worse. So we build up walls to protect ourselves from ever letting that happen again. It seems to be part of our human nature. There are times when those walls protect us, yet those walls also block us from seeing opportunities.
Any of us can think of reasons why this won’t work, that is why that is not the question I have asked. I ask us all to dream a bit. What could happen if we focused our efforts on becoming a place where the transforming love of God is made real? And its follow up question, “What part could I play in making that a reality?”
When this becomes our focus many of the objections will disappear. This isn’t a cup half full or half empty question where we just say think happy thoughts and be positive. This is soul searching when we truly look at the deeper question of how are we going to share the love of Jesus Christ in Needles, Parker, and Blythe, then to other places for the transformation of people’s lives.
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