Another announcement with a story —
We are going to have another workday at Karen’s house next Saturday, march 7, starting at 7am. After additional examination of the brick wall in her living room, we have decided to try and keep it. Karen would prefer to keep it, so we are going to shore it up and put new moulding around it. (If it was my house that is what I would do). We do have a lot of crown moulding to install and paint, a propane tank to paint, tile to lay and some other odds and ends to wrap up. If you can help we would really appreciate it. Also, I don’t have everyone’s email, so if there is someone not on the list you think would help, please forward this info to them. Thanks ahead of time for your help!
This one didn’t come from the church office, but from a group of our young men at church who’ve decided on their own to take this ministry on. You see, Karen is the mother of two young children and lost her husband just a few weeks ago. It was entirely unexpected that a man so young, just starting on his career, would die so suddenly.
And so the men of our church got together and decided to help the family cope with the loss of a father and husband. They’ve visited their home and are doing for their home what they would do for their own.
And so, now you’ve seen a selection of the announcements I’ve received from my church during the last month or so. It’s been a remarkable time. And while I’m very proud of my congregation, none of these are my ministry and I’ve had very little to do with any of these things.
The point is not that the University Church of Christ is a great church. It is that God is a great God. All his churches have greatness in them because they are all temples in which God dwells through his Spirit. The difference among churches is how freely the Spirit is allowed to move and accomplish God’s mission.
If we constrain God’s Spirit by artificial rules — refusing to cooperate with “the denominations,” refusing to allow women to lead, refusing to serve non-members — well, God’s Spirit is not about rules and limits. Rather, the Spirit is, as Jesus told Nicodemus, like the wind. We have to let the wind blow where it wills.
And if we constrain God’s Spirit by a bureaucracy, requiring all decisions to go through the elders, well, that won’t work either. The elders didn’t vote on whether to let these men care for this family and the elders didn’t vote on whether to allow the building to be used for Katrina relief. Rather, the elders have to get out of the way and let God be God.
Sometimes it’s a little chaotic. And sometimes great things happen that we elders don’t even know about. But that’s okay. So long as the members and the staff understand God’s mission, it all works out.
And these experiences change our understanding of worship dramatically. When we come to the assembly, we are there to worship God — a God who is alive and active in our church, doing great things. And we are sitting with people whom we’ve worked beside, with whom we share a little of God’s story. We were there together when God did amazing things among us.
No longer are we counting on the preacher and the hymn writers to spur us on to love and good works. Rather, we reclaim the task that rightfully belongs to the members. We challenge each other. And we don’t need permission to be God’s people and serve in his mission. Rather, like Jesus, when we see a need, we have compassion and, with God’s power, meet the need. And this unleashes a power that will turn the world upside down.
The world won’t be changed by electing the right president or passing the right laws. It won’t be changed by having the right programs or using the right book on church leadership. The world will be changed by God himself working through each of his servants, as hearts are changed through examples of service, by disciple inviting disciple to join in God’s mission, by older men and women inviting younger men and women to join in the work and showing them the sheer joy of participating with God in remaking the world.
Notwithstanding the statistics and surveys, I’m excited about the future of the church. I think the next generation of leaders will be much better than my generation. And I think the generation after that will be even better. You see, we’re getting away from fights over doctrine and worship and turning our guns on the forces of Satan — poverty, death, injury, and flood — and allowing God to transform tragedy into a revelation of his glory.