Orange. It’s ironic that it’s my favorite color, favorite flavor of Kool Aid, and now one of the most looked forward to parts of my year.
Orange Conference in Atlanta was last week and wow talk about year two of information overload. There is so much going on at this conference that it could last a week and I would feel a need for more time.
The concept is simple really, churches partnering with families as opposed to trying to lure them in with tricks and gimmics actually spending time doing life together. It’s funny because last Sunday we talked about reaching in and how important it is to work on doing life together, to strengthen each other, to encourage each other, to grow together and independently in our relationship with God. Given the opportunity it is so much easier to build programs instead of letting the ministry of a church grow organically. The real question is how to do this when the church you pastor is in a building phase?
We have made great strides in some areas in the 10 or so weeks we have been at the church. I have heard from some that the changes are being noticed, that people are stopping to see what’s going on all that is really great, but sometimes I want more, more than hey that looks great, more than we noticed and we’re thinking about it.
The idea of change sounds great on paper, the need for it is easily recognizable, the implementation however is where things get messy because that is where you start messing with lives, especially in a church, because if anything is true its that while people are attached to a building they are also attached to history. History is a powerful motivator, especially when it comes to what a church is supposed to be, the problem is we all tend to remember what was as much grander than the reality. Years ago I remember this one Christmas at my grandmother’s in Akron, it’s a vivid memory but there is no possible way it’s accurate. I remember this huge room with big doors closed and locked, the room that we were in was equally grand with a table spread for a king. I remember all of the cousins being excited at the prospect of those huge doors opening, and when they did the tree and presents were the stuff of legend. I remember this, the problem is I’ve been in the house since, and beautiful as it is my memories and reality don’t match, the house is not large enough the doors not grand enough the table not big enough. So what happened. Part of it is nostalgia, but part of it is that the memory is firmly planted in my kid brain, not my reality brain. Which is what I think happens in church settings. I think we remember hundreds coming out for a dinner when reality said it was tens. We remember a full church with people in the balcony, when the reality was a half full sanctuary and a bunch of teenager sneaking up to the balcony to , make out during the sermon. We latch onto the memories instead of realizing that new memories for a new generation need to be made.
This type of memory is what I think causes the need for programs as opposed to organic ministry. Seeking to replicate the feelings and connections that we remember by duplicating the circumstances fails. The problem is church and God and relationships aren’t like some kind of science class where there are experiments that can be reproduced over and over for the same results because of some scientific principle.
How do you transition though? How do you get the church to recognize the importance of missional living. Of moving past a pen and paper, sermon listening ,Sunday school relationship that is nice and neat and tied in a bow to a living, breathing out there sowing Jesus into people’s lives through living how he would live, loving How he would love.
Christ Followers as a whole need to make a move toward being like instead if reading about. When this happens I believe change will be second nature because we will understand that in order to reach some we became all things to all people.