Here we are already, blazing into fall. The leaves have turned, the rain has come, and we’re getting used to the new rhythms of life. One thing that comes in the fall are our charge conferences. For those who aren’t so fluent in Methodist-ese, these are meetings that figure out church business. We had our business meeting after church. I was glad that we could all get on the same page. It’s important to me that everybody is kept in the loop of what is happening. The more transparency there is, the better we will be able to function as a church.
One other thing I talked about was the future of the Church. The Church across the whole Western world is on hospice. We have ways of doing church that have worked pretty well for the past few hundred years. However, there has been a paradigm shift over the past few decades—a shift that doesn’t just rearrange the furniture, but tore down the whole room and rebuilt it. By the time I retire in 45 years, a full 1/2 of the churches in America will have closed. The majority of the ones that remain open will be on the life support of endowments. 90% of the churches that exist today will not be able to make the shift to a new way of thinking, of being community. However, I have an insane amount of hope for Seabold UMC. I honestly believe that, if we choose to, we could be one of the 10% of churches that survive. And not only survive, but thrive! I have an obscene amount of hope. And imagine the amazing privilege to be blazing into literally uncharted territory. No one knows what this new church looks like, because no one has ever done it yet. We have the potential to leave an amazing legacy for our descendants—a church that will change their lives like it has transformed ours! It’s natural to be scared. And I completely understand that. But I hope that you will join me in taking the leap of faith, to see what transformative things God can do with a little church at the intersection of 3 communities.
One of the few things that we know about the new shape of the church is that it is not focused inside our four walls. It is living and breathing in the community, focused on serving others rather than cloistering ourselves away. One way that I am living into this vision is through an exciting (brand-new) program that I am beginning at North Kitsap High School. I will be a reading specialist with them. I will be working with those students who have fallen behind. When someone falls behind in reading, the whole educational process suffers, as do their chances at high achievement further down the road. I am excited to start working with the youth who are falling through the cracks to begin to get more fully integrated into our community.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke tenderly of the “Beloved Community”—the place where all are accepted as they are and works to shape a broken world back into the shape God originally made it.
Beloved Community, may we forge on boldly. God is calling us to incredible things. It is up to us to decide whether or not we will take God up on the offer to be great.