Lately I have been ruminating, thinking, maybe even fretting (Penny would say "obsessing") about our proposed renovation project. I am incredibly excited about the possibilities it could bring us. The boost to our life together as a community of faith would be tremendous. Quite frankly, however, the gap between our resources and the end product worries me.
Whenever my late pastor and mentor, Brantley Seymour, led my home church into a building program he spent a lot of sleepless nights walking the halls of his home. I may be awake a few nights with Brantley in the near future.
Oh, I know, I know. If God wants us to do this God will provide the resources for us to do it. I believe that with all my heart. The question is, Does God want us to do it?
Unfortunately, that's not the question we usually ask. We ask, "What will the congregation support?" We ask, "What does a majority of the membership want to do?" I don't recall ever being in a congregational meeting where a major decision was being considered by the body and hearing the question asked, "What does God want us to do?"
Maybe we think the will of God will be determined by strict adherence to Robert's Rules of Order. Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of using Robert's Rules for normal group business transactions.
But I discovered something interesting recently about Robert's Rules. They were written by a General in the U.S. army who was appalled at the inept methods his Baptist church used for making decisions, so he came up with some procedures modeled after Thomas Jefferson's rules for the United States Congress. He wanted standardized rules that could be used by religious and civic groups.
Therefore, Robert's Rules of Order makes no provision for the Spirit of God. They allow the body to determine which option has majority support, but say nothing about determining what God might want the body to do. They divide the group into winners and losers, but do nothing about uniting the group under the will of God.
The early church had a different approach. They dared to ask, "What does God want us to do here?" and then they sought to listen for the voice of God prodding them, leading them, calling them, guiding them.
We should have a good cost estimate early in November, and then we will need to share as much information with each other as we possibly can. But then I'm wondering if we couldn't do something radically different. Before asking, "Can we pay for this?" I hope we will ask, "What does God want us to do?" I promise to set aside my own agenda, and my own pre-conceived notions, and listen for the voice of God speaking to me through you.
Anybody willing to join me?