In response to a post by Jay Dozier on TransformingCongregations
I love that you regularly remind me why I like you so much.
I had a similar response, but am undergoing therapy for my messiah complex, so was able to resist the temptation to come to your aid.
I don’t mind following your lead though.
Our board met last night – a group that over the last year has matured significantly, and is accepting the challenge to let go of things that are others’ responsibilities – like letting the personnel committee hire a youth minister without reviewing the candidate first! And taking back to the property committee the responsibility of figuring out why our utilities are so high, rather than trying to micromanage that in the meeting (ok, we tried, but caught ourselves and stopped!) which is to say that process and structure are impacted by all of this, and, Lord willin’ will change and be transformed.
So, in my report to the board – which is usually leadership training (“how can we manage our own anxiety?”, “nurturing those around us” – stuff like that) or its more devotional/inspirational/prayerful/theological. Last night was the latter. Post Easter, I’m watching the disciples to see how they respond to such a dramatic, world changing event as the resurrection of the crucified God/Man. They go fishing. Not ‘fishers of men’ fishing. They go fishing-fishing. HUH!!?? Having experienced the risen Lord, how could they do anything but go and tell others? How could anyone….
So this phrase is ringing in my ear “Taking Christ to the World” – a google search of which returned 591 hits, mostly seeming to be about missions or media ministries in developing countries. None of which i’d encountered recently, so i’m not sure where the wording originated for me. But it is both evocative and provocative. It evokes in me an experience akin to the women of Matthew 28 who returned from the tomb, “with fear and great joy”. Yes, that’s it exactly. Fear AND joy. Fear of the unknown, of the implications of it all – (which my wife says is why they guys went fishing – “when you don’t know what to do, you do what you know…” – yes, she’s the smart one!)
And I stumbled a bit last night in sharing this, because I wanted to be sure that the group did not hear me criticizing them, their faith, their commitment, their ministry, their sacrifice, etc. Jesus was challenging me – “take me to the world” Challenging, asking, pleading. Fear and Joy. Yes, I believe Jesus is saying this to our board as well, and that they are called to lead out in this. But that will happen when it happens for me, in me, through me.
In staff meetings we’ve been talking about strengthening and deepening our experience of community, and what fruits we would expect to see in Christian community. One we chose to focus upon is “gratitude”. And we began to ask how to teach or foster gratitude in the congregation. We’re kind of slow, but we finally realized that the thing to do was to express gratitude ourselves. So, during staff meeting we took an hour to write thank you notes to our elders and board and ministry council.
The church leadership folks seem to agree that congregations take on the personality of their leadership, particularly the pastor(s). for better or worse! Which perhaps is why Paul says, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1) and also why Hebrews says:
13:17Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
And as the writer to the Hebrews likes to say, “someone said somewhere…” ‘a teacher is held to higher account’
We might wish that folks would look straight to Jesus, we might teach and preach and pray it, but the reality is that we all look to human examples around us of what we want to become.
So, I agree with Jay that transformation is about the transformation of leaders first, and congregations secondarily and as a byproduct – for congregations are simply gatherings of people. What needs to happen in my life so that I will transform, so that my christ-self (Christ in me – the hope of glory) might emerge.
Isn’t that what emergent is, really, or should be – Jesus emerging again out of the church and the world to become visible for a new generation.
The reason, ultimately, that the disciples were fishing in stead of running around “taking Christ to the world.” is that they had met Jesus, knew Jesus, believed in Jesus, but had not yet experienced the power of the Holy Spirit that would fill them and transform them.
We will not transform congregations – we will not create emergent worship.
we must find Jesus again, and allow Him to fill us and transform us.