John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
So, we are coming out of the worst pandemic of our history. Churches, schools, businesses all over have been dramatically affected. Leadership is having to blaze new trails. Parents and children are wondering what to do. Teachers are trying and learning to adapt. We are reassessing programs, priorities, and needs.
I am looking at this pandemic as a chance to evaluate what we were doing, what is really important, and what needs to be done. In a sense we as a church have an opportunity to hit the reset button and reform.
You have heard the saying, “Reformed and always reforming.” It doesn’t just apply to theology. I believe it applies to our everyday existence. If we are paying attention to what God is doing in our lives we are reforming constantly, dare I say that IS who we are when we are born of water and Spirit.
The Spirit blows where it will and moves us to where and when the need is. We are born from above and if we truly believe that (I know all y’all do) we know that things cannot stay the same; they must grow and move towards God.
Our church leaders met on October 13th to take the opportunity to assess where we are and where we would envision the church, our church of the present, and future. Sure, we must concentrate on the now, but we must have our eyes to the future; letting the Spirit guide us where it will and lay the groundwork for ministries, worship, and programs for another 100 years.
We started with the question, “If you could have or be any church, what would that church look like, what would it be?” Seventeen of us spoke, listened, discussed, and began a journey of hitting the reset button and reforming our church. Our theological identity was of the utmost importance but intertwined with that, were areas of worship, technology, mission outreach, programs, education, and hospitality. We know that personal engagement with each other and with God is paramount and that a distant or cyber church, although necessary, is not primary (we were blessed that leadership had the foresight to Pastor’s make this a strong program and a piece of our ministries so we did not need to play catchup when the pandemic hit us). We need people, our family, our body, back at church participating; face to face, shoulder to shoulder, and together.
The big question is participating in what? Do we keep the same programs, times, events? Which do we keep, which do we eliminate, which do we modify, what new ones need to be developed? So, we came up with an initial “take away” list of items and areas that need to be looked at. Items that could help reform us and yet be true to who we are as Presbyterians. But this is just the start!
There are some items that are easy peasy and some that are going to require quite a bit of work, deliberate work and ministry. It is not just for the leadership but you as members as well, especially you as members as well.
The pandemic, or the end of it, is giving all of us the opportunity to reach out to friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers, and invite and bring them to our church. Think about it, last Sunday we had 70 people. If all 70 brought one person to church next week we would have 140. Then if those 140 did the same thing next week we would have 280. Talk about church growth and what is really cool…WE CAN DO THIS! We just have to be deliberate and let the Holy Spirit work through us.
Our church is a fun place, a godly place, a safe place, a worshipful place, and a place where we can gather and call it home. So, I encourage all y’all to reset, reform, and reenlist, to recommit to this wonderful and historic, yet ever present and growing community of believers.
I pray we will see all y’all for Stewardship Dedication, for Communion, for Sunday School, for Hospitality, for Wednesday Night Dinners, for our Congregational Meeting, for Advent, for our Cantata, for Longest Night, for Christmas Eve, and beyond! WE ARE COMING BACK TO LIFE, out of the refiners fire, stronger and more committed than ever before, with mountains of opportunities ahead of us, because the Spirit is strong in this church… blowing like a whirlwind with the sound of God in its wings!
Peace, Pastor Ken