I just had a mixed emotional experience at church.
I have been away from my church for a couple of months now. The church is in real trouble. When I started attending this church, it was ten times its current size. I was so impressed by the youth and friendliness of members. Now the mean age is probably 50ish compared to 25 when I started. I did not like the preacher but that did not matter because the members were great. Many families are gone, including many of my friends, and there is not much left.
I returned today to see that many of my friends are somewhere else this morning. I pondered being where they are. But, that feeling was quickly replaced by a feeling of excitement and purpose. All of the voids suddenly looked like opportunities to me. It is like having a chance to start over from scratch only with more resources. The opportunity to actually do what we are commissioned to do excites me.
We made some evangelistic efforts in the past. We have had one big event and many small ones in my five years with this church. But, the effort to go into the world and meet people’s needs where they live has been relegated to one small group who teach English using the bible as text. That type of ministry is great for reaching recent immigrants but doesn’t fit all needs in my town. So now this church must get back to basics or die.
I see the troubles that we have experienced as purification by fire. Not so much purification of the members but a purification of purpose. See, we were good at using the platitudes but, we need some fire in our attitudes. I can’t think of a better motivator to do what is right than a threat to our very survival.
I was sure to be like my friends going somewhere else but now I see that there is a place for me and my family right where we started. Folks used to refer to my church as a sinking ship. I think a better metaphor is the phoenix. Rising from the ashes to become more than you once were, is sort of a biblical concept. I will enjoy our new beginning.