My freshman year at college I made the decision not to go home for Thanksgiving. Instead I chose to go to a skateboard competition in Atlanta, six hours away from school. A friend and I caught a ride with four other guys who were going to compete. As far as I can remember, the drive north was uneventful. The contest itself was fun, but eating Thanksgiving dinner at the nearby Waffle House did not sit well with either my stomach or my parents. By the end of the three-day competition, we were all running on very little sleep and even less money. So, as a group, we decided it would be best to leave early and miss the party that closed out the event. We pooled our money to fill up the car’s tank, and began our journey home with sore muscles and empty stomachs.
The warmth of the car felt nice, and the dark roads lulled everyone but the driver and myself to sleep. I am not sure how long I had been watching the green mile markers on the side of the road before I realized they were going up, not down. Eventually it would dawn on me that we were driving north, not south. We would have to travel 27 miles more miles out of our way before we could turn ourselves around and get going in the right direction. We limped home with just enough gas, but the error depleted us of what litter energy we had left. Had I not seen the signs along the side of the road, who knows how far out of our way we would have gone before we would have really been in trouble.
A church’s life often takes similar journeys. Congregations often operate in cruise control, overlooking the warning signs that they are going the wrong way. Instead of following the uncertainty of the Spirit, many churches just keep going and going the same way. When they realize they’re not where they want to be, they are often out of gas and out of money. It’s imperative that we keep alert to God’s warning signs that are all around the community and the people we serve. We cannot afford to be like the Pharisees, whose religious habits were causing them to miss seeing God in their midst. As our spiritual practices become automatic, we too become vulnerable. We tend to fall asleep at the wheel. This is what makes change both necessary and difficult.
As the church is busy preparing for the Annual Meeting on January 28, I’d like to invite each board and committee to look at the way your group has operated over the last year and contemplate new ways to help the church move in a different direction. I encourage you all to publish those ideas and goals in your report. Likewise, if anyone has an idea, opinion, objective, concept, or proposal, please feel free to share it. A new church year always brings new opportunities to implement new ideas through mutual ministry. After all, this is our church. And together we take this journey. I’m buckled in for the ride. Are you?
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”