|About a month ago, an enthusiastic group of FCC people gave up their Saturday in order to meet and talk about who we are as a church and where we believe God is leading us. Some told me they would have liked to have been there, but were prevented from attending for various reasons. |
The 36 who gathered that day worked incredibly hard. They listened, they shared, they discussed, they debated, and they demonstrated a willingness to step out of their comfort zones and commit to church life that is not “business as usual.”
Lois and I did not want anyone to feel they had to edit what they thought or said because of the presence of clergy in their midst, so while everyone broke up into small group discussions, Lois and I went to the chapel to pray. We prayed that the group as a whole would hear the rustlings of God’s Spirit and discern God’s direction.
I believe God answered our prayers. The document produced that day is clear enough, yet flexible enough, to direct us for a long time to come. It is also workable enough, yet challenging enough, to keep us moving forward in positive ways.
First, the group defined the purpose of First Congregational United Church of Christ this way: To seek God’s truth, practice Christ’s teachings, and love others unconditionally. There could have been other ways to say it, of course, but those
|words encapsulate the unfolding purpose God has been revealing to us as we move from the membership model of doing church to the discipleship model. It defines us as more than the Rotary Club with sacraments. It’s a definition which will take a lifetime to explore. |
Second, the group developed three huge (and I do mean “huge”) goals based on the purpose statement they had just written. Over the next five years they felt God is calling us to:
1) Create a hunger for worship in our community.
2) Minister to the needs of those within our church and the wider community.
3) Create a church where people are challenged to use their gifts in discipleship.
On the surface, the response to these goals may look like it should be “Well, duh… What else would we be doing?” However, these are not small tasks, nor will they be words we merely put on a poster and admire from a distance. Taking these goals seriously, and adjusting everything in our church life to meet them, will take all the skills we have plus a deep trust in God.
Now the task is to develop specific strategies for addressing these goals. I urge you to ask God what needs to be done, and then listen for the answer. Then ask God what part you should play in this drama.
You say there’s nothing you can do? Perhaps you are not listening.