My Mother-in-Law got a new cell phone. Her flip phone broke in half and she got tired of having to use both hands to talk. She didn’t want a smart phone, but wanted another flip phone, so my Honey got her one. Same color, same style, but it has a few upgrades that the first one didn’t.
We got daily phone calls for two weeks about her frustrations. She would open it in the night to use the light and hit a button. It took her picture. She wants to know what Verizon is going to do with a picture ‘they’ took of her in the night. She found the flashlight button, which we thought was a good upgrade, but now she can’t turn it off and she says it blinds her and she really doesn’t want to use her glasses at night to turn it off. Somehow she has gotten a ding alarm set for 3am and wants to know who is calling her in the middle of the night. We chuckle and we have tried to ‘fix’ her new phone, but as she found out when she went to the Verizon store, upgrades can’t be removed. She has now quit calling us and is finally settling into her new, upgraded cell phone. If she finds a new challenge, she now goes straight to the source, the Verizon store, and they teach her.
The staff and worship committee at my church have taken on the challenge to instill excellence in worship for 2015 and we aren’t waiting until January to get the ball rolling. We are ‘shooting a few bullets’ this fall. Jim Collins, noted author and researcher of the book Good to Great, calls it ‘shooting bullets before cannonballs.” http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/jim-collins-on-bullets-before-cannonballs/. Over the last several months we have spent time with the best: Mark Burrows from First UMC in Ft Worth, and Rev Dr Marcia McFee. We have continued to participate in online training and working diligently alongside our laity in prayer and discussion about some of the things we have ‘sprinkled’ here and there before we go ‘all in’ for the Advent season.
We’ve been at this a month now. We are putting educational information in the weekly bulletin and in our monthly newsletter. I note it in the emails addressed to folks who serve on the worship teams on Sunday morning and our worship leader is talking it up at their practices. We are taking every opportunity to speak face to face with energy and enthusiasm. Our senior pastor is even planning for a few Sunday School class visits over the next month or so to give folks a chance to participate in word, deed, and prayer.
I LOVE the energy that comes with the tension of change in the local church. It gives me a chance to share in the whole church, not just my area of Children’s Ministry. It gives me a chance to be invited into the hearts and spiritual histories of the saints of the church as I may be more accessible, maybe even ‘safe’, when the tensions come. Just last week, I happened to be sitting behind someone who needed to ‘share’ immediately after services. She placed her hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and shared her personal challenge with tenderness and grace. In that very moment, I got to feel, hear, and see her heart as I looked into her eyes. It allowed me to encourage, affirm, and pray for her. I was invited into her journey.
The sense of the movement of the Holy Spirit comes to more people when we make changes at church. And it can be uncomfortable. And they don’t know what to do with the discomfort…the tension. Folks begin to articulate their personal preferences, their personal histories, and their personal narratives. How they do this is a direct result of their dedication to prayer and bible study. How I respond is also a direct result of my dedication to prayer and bible study.
Every church I have every served has been a place of change. Some congregations handle it well, some just get mean about it. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway says, “Obstacles and critics are common, but not insurmountable.” Church saints and leaders who are in the Word on a daily basis and in prayer on a daily basis, share their challenges in a way that invites others to know their hearts because they are kind, they are constructively involved, and they read everything that comes out: bulletins, newsletters, emails, everything! Those constantly in the Word and prayer speak of their tensions with tenderness, open minds, and discussion for clarity for understanding. Oh the filter that is afforded with a regular diet of prayer and bible study!
I, too, get frustrated when I have to take on an upgraded cell phone, an upgraded computer, any upgraded device. Yet I have discovered the situation invites me to slow down, to pay attention to the details, and to participate fully until I can be more confident in my place in the mix.
When it comes to participating fully in church change, I will devote myself to prayer (talking with the Lord), bible study (the Lord talking with me), and to be ‘all in’ in the community of faith (read everything that comes out from the leadership). It’s a ‘whole church’ thing, not just my particular area. Then I’ll ask, “What ELSE can I do to help?” When the Holy Spirit is involved, I will not settle to sit on the sidelines and wait to be invited onboard. I’m jumping on and holding on for dear life because something great for His Kingdom is going to happen and I don’t want to miss a thing.
“To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33