I have stuff in my closet, drawers and, well, just about all over the place, that I don’t need or use anymore. Some of it has sentimental value, but most of it, I just keep…and I don’t know why. I'm just used to it.
Many church buildings reflect the same behavior. In fact, when I started at St. Paul’s, all of the closets in the parish hall were chock full of stuff --things that carried history and meaning, but were now moldy from disuse and poor ventilation.
In a recent podcast, leadership expert and pastor Andy Stanley, talked about church systems as “designed to maintain the status quo.” The status quo works for a while, but then it undermines growth and new opportunities. There are life cycles to systems just as there are to all things that grow.
Even furniture has a lifecycle. You can’t improve the living room without getting rid of the old couch. The one that you need to be hoisted out of. That couch. Those of us who hang out in the living room (speaking metaphorically of our community at St. Paul’s) know not to sit on that couch. We know to overlook that dim sanctuary, or the pew that looks like it’s ready to collapse. But that doesn't improve our welcome.
The question for us is: how do we stay faithful to our mission and vision for this place while also adapting to the new realities of our world? To use a catchy phrase, how do we “marry the mission, but date the model?” Our model for ministry needs to change over time for new generations and needs.
One answer is to look at how we give our time, abilities, and money. Are we supporting maintenance or mission? Are we just suiting ourselves (keeping the old couch) or investing in what God might do?
In the weeks ahead, we’ll be talking about stewardship regularly. I welcome your thoughts on how we might faithfully and creatively use our money, skills and time as a community. The more we offer these gifts to the Holy Spirit, the more effective we’ll be!
Part 2: The New Model
How do we stay faithful to our mission and vision for this place while also adapting to the new realities of our world? To use a catchy phrase, how do we “marry the mission, but date the model?” Our model for ministry needs to change over time for new generations and needs. Sometimes that means letting go of the "old couch" we talked about last week.
We’ve done a ton of “old couch kicking” in the last 18 months. Now, we are preparing to make a systemic change that is full of new potential.
Starting November 1, we will have a new Executive Director to oversee the campus and leverage current and new activities to maximize engagement with the greater community.
Think of it this way, we are uncoupling the worship community from the building so that the building can be accessible to people who would NEVER sit on our couch.
I will reduce my hours and focus on Sunday/Pastoral ministry, and Darian will focus on Administration, Programs and Facilities. We'll partner to serve the worshipping community and leverage the building and programs to invite all others.
Darian's salary will come from dividing the Rector's salary in two. So, the general fund/budget remains as before.
This systemic shift will enable things that we as a community haven’t imagined and probably don’t have the capacity to imagine. But God has had it in mind all along. God has never called us to hold on to "old couches". In the Bible, we hear again and again, Behold I make all things new! Come follow me, Be transformed, be reborn, grow! Our faithfulness often requires change. Even the treasures of the faith, like the Ark of Covenant, the Temple, and the hem of Jesus' garment have been lost to time. What endures is the Spirit - the vision!
So, here we go, on to a new thing. I assure you, all along the way, your leaders discerned and sensed the coalescing of the Spirit toward this path. I am so excited to see what the future holds, because already, God is doing beautiful things among us.
Most of the blog articles are written by our Rector, The Rev. Rebecca Ragland