Thoughts Along The Way: October 2012
We start the month of October with our annual church conference on the seventh. The meeting will give us an opportunity to start getting the annual “business” stuff of the church done. We will rotate names through our committee rosters, we will approve the budget and my compensation package for the new year, and we will get some of the annual paperwork requirements out of the way. Sure there will be more forms to fill out but at least some of them will be completed. We will get to host our new District Superintendent Kibum Kim and he will get a chance to get to know us as well. For many of us it will be a long day of Sunday school, worship, Holy Communion, fellowship dinner and the business meeting. You know, all the stuff that makes church fun!
You may be thinking that the description above doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun and if that was all that church conference really was then you would be right. However, it is also a time to celebrate the past year and the ministries of our church. It is a time to reflect on what we are doing and to seek inspiration for the future. It is a time where we should realize that nearly all of us, if you read the committee rosters, are leaders in our church. More importantly it is a chance to start fresh as leaders in our church.
The fact is, our church needs leadership now more than ever. We face many of the same problems that we have always faced. Unfortunately, while we may have not made great strides in addressing them, they have been constantly changing or growing. Much like the roof, before it was repaired, each rain or snow brought a little more damage to the building. The roof may be repaired but the resulting damage remains untouched.
What about the other issues we face? Like handicap accessibility or repainting and repairing the exterior woodwork and stained glass windows. Then there are all the little things to worry about, the plaster damage from the downspout leak and the continual flurries of white paint particles that drop from the ceiling in the sanctuary each week. These are the types of things that seem to have developed a life of their own while we may or may not have been watching them. These are the types of things we have been worrying about from time to time but have not been able to figure out the best plan to address them.
These types of things are the reasons why “they” make us have our committees and all those exciting meetings. Well, not exactly. Sure we are supposed to be good stewards of our resources and our building and all that goes with it but the building is not supposed to drive our ministry and mission. Our building is not supposed to be our main focus–we are supposed to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. Our church is supposed to be about more than just us and our families. Our church was started to serve God and to help the community of Galena hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we seem to get so caught up in worrying about our building that we seldom do what Christ has called us to do.
Don’t get me wrong, our church is a giving and a loving church that supports many different ministries. We pay our apportionments, we give of ourselves for special offerings and causes without hesitation. However, we have fallen into the same traps that have caught many other churches in our country. We find it easy to support established causes and sign on to their ministries but that seems to be where we stop. We are not unlike the inner city churches that once were filled on Sunday mornings but now stand crumbling and near empty because they lost contact with the hurting and lost people around them.
Whether we like it or not, we are an inner city church, it is just that we don’t see ourselves that way because we are in the city of Galena. The outer edges of our city are growing and thriving but the neighborhood around us is stagnant or in decline and we have little or no connection with our neighbors.
As we prepare to start leading our church for the year ahead, I would like to challenge each of you to take your leadership responsibilities seriously and to play an active role throughout the year. Our numbers are small and our building is already crumbling. Our church building can be a monument to the past that’s relevancy is lost on those who go past it each day or we can transcend it by serving more than our building and ultimately choosing to serve God. How we do that needs to be determined by you–the leadership of our church.