Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Sense of Urgency

Well it's been while. My absence from this blog probably has more to do with my having too much on my mind rather than having nothing to say. Will Ferrell delivers a great line in the movie Blades of Glory: "Mind-bottling. You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?" That's kind of how I've felt.

The good news is that most of my crazy, mind-bottling thoughts have been about Calvary. As Calvary's pastor, it's my job to think about our members, our future, and our faithfulness to Christ. And lately I've been trying to think better... so I've been letting others think with me.

In last Sunday's bulletin I asked the congregation to pray for six of our members. I'd rather not publish their names to the web, so if you missed the list, check the e-newsletter or email me. These six people -- which include me, four very diverse church members, and Bob, our local candidate for ministry -- make up what we're calling The Transformation Team. By the way, I'm open to suggestions on the title.

Bob is the moderator of the team, so I am free to simply be a member of it and have equal voice in it. The other members were chosen by the Session after I gave them an idea of what I intended to do and allowed them some time to pray about it. The team is reading and discussing a book called Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation by George Bullard. We've met twice and each of us have already been challenged by the ideas presented by the book and by God's Spirit. In short, this is already the most exhilarating and rewarding thing I've done in professional ministry.

Although these meetings need to be somewhat confidential to foster our honest communication, I do intend to share my thoughts on the process as often as I can when it relates to my own journey. And one of the first things I have been faced with is, why are we doing this? Since this was my idea, it may seem like a silly question. However, since my answer has changed at least a couple of times since first articulating these ideas, it's not a bad question too keep asking.

The short answer has always been, "Because I have a sense of urgency for my ministry at Calvary." I believe we all have a sense of urgency for our church and no two people's are exactly the same. Often our sense of urgency leads us down a path toward change, like if we see an absence of some demographic or a shrinking worship attendance or a desire to regain a former splendor. It's important to notice what gives us urgency in our church because it fuels our passion for ministry, it might explain why we're at odds with some of our siblings in Christ, and it may be the Spirit's way of nudging us. But it may not always be the best reason for congregational change.

A year ago, my urgency was about acknowledging the mistakes of my past in an effort to be the best pastor I can be. It was about me wanting us to be a growing, vital congregation. But in the end, it was really only about me. I wouldn't have been the first pastor to roll into a congregation with something to prove, but I'm glad God has given me a different sense of urgency. As I've begun to study with The Team, I've learned that the only sense of urgency that really works in the church is the urgency to be faithful to Christ's leading. All of those other things that get us moving in the life of the church may be true and honest reflections of who we are, but they need to take a back seat to the urgency of faithfulness.

So as I said on Sunday, please pray for the team; some transformational things are happening
there already. Pray for our well being, the lessons we learn, and that we retain a faithful sense of urgency.