As Jesus pressed the religious leaders in the Temple, the religious leaders of the day had to recognize that this guy was going to be trouble for them because he upset the establishment. And when you upset the establishment, key leaders in said establishment begin to worry because they can clearly see change on the horizon. I’m not going to draw any parallels in our political society today; they are evident enough on their own.
But I do want to point out how faith communities today react in a similar fashion.
We all know the congregation I’m going to be talking about – it’s the one down the road or across the street from our church, but it’s not us and it’s definitely not United Methodist. There is a moment in that congregation’s life that is going to be pivotal in their ability to function as a church – notice I didn’t say thrive or grow, because I’m simply speaking about their day to day functions that go into ministry. This moment is going to define the future of the congregation, and this moment may vary in what it looks like – it may be a pastoral change, the sudden and tragic death of an extremely active member (a matriarch or patriarch of the church), it could be a moment in a meeting when the missions line item in the budget is slashed, or worse yet, the day the voices of children and babies cease to exist in worship because they’ve all grown up or left. During these moments of crisis, the leadership of the laity must either cling to the establishment that has been created and sustained for quite possibly generations, or pivot and answer the Spirit’s calling in our lives.
There has to be a shift in the mentality of simply “getting by,” to being intentional about our relationship with our self, with others, and ultimately with God.
Simply put, the establishment known as the church today was never meant to contain the passion and zeal for the Lord. The intentional community is going to hear the voice of the prophet and not tremble with fear, but take the message and see how it relates to them. The intentional community will not silence the voices because it might rock the boat. The intentional community is going to look beyond the four walls and see the community outside of the congregation as their local mission field.
When we as a congregation become intentional, the pivotal moment in our church life will then center around what can we do next to help make ourselves better disciples of Christ and how can we reach out and help others to become intentional about their faith. That is going to be the moment that also defines the future of the congregation because it is going to move a worshipping body from complacency to heating up our lukewarm hearts and instilling in us a passion and desire to grow God’s kingdom. Then we will be functioning as the church was intended! Then we will see those signs of life and vitality again, and we will be keenly aware of God’s grace and presence in our lives and in our community.
Peace, Pastor David