Just a Thought…

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

-Isaiah 6:8

I’m still coming down from the high of our Festa Italiana. Wow! Just…  Wow.  What a phenomenal event it was.  The food was tasty, the ambience was warm and inviting, the entertainment was outstanding, and the servers served like professionals.  Most importantly, we exceeded our fundraising goal!

But there was a deeper lesson we learned (or maybe re-learned) as a congregation. I found myself learning it at the event, as people came up to me saying things like “Wow, Chris- you did such an amazing job!” Of course, the only reply I could honestly give was, “I didn’t do anything…”

And that is mostly true.  Except for some ancillary support (lending dishes, purchasing last minute extra items, encouraging others, etc.) the entire success of Festa Italiania happened at the hands of others.  From Jo and Mike birthing the original dream for the Dinner… to those who were captivated by the dream and joined together to plan and coordinate the event… to ownership of the entire congregation by making donations and serving… as well as the financial support of friends and partner churches… the Festa Italiana was a group endeavor!

Ministry is the work of the people. It is never just the work of the pastor, or vicar, or a Council or the Ministry Team. Each of us is called to ministry in and through our Baptism.  And the Vicar Event Planning team lived this out in its fullness!

On occasion, someone will approach me and say, “Pastor, I think Celebration should…”  And then after sharing a really great idea for ministry, the person walks away, expecting me or others to make it happen.  Friends, if this was ever a way we did ministry at Celebration, it will no longer be!

 

From now on, when you have an idea for a new ministry, you will have immediate permission to establish an Action Team as long as:

  1. It doesn’t violate our church’s mission/core values;
  2. You recruit enough people who share your interest to carry out the ministry; and
  3. It is self-funding.

If these three things can be answered faithfully, the you are free and fully authorized to move forward! No more waiting for the Ministry Team or Council to start new ministries, to plan events, or coordinate activities.  We will encourage and support the members as the primary ministers of the congregation!

 

This was something we talked about when we first launched, and we never quite fully lived into it. But, you will begin to see our church culture shift from “pastor-type” people leading ministries, to lay people being ministry leaders. The job of the Ministry Team and pastoral leaders will now be to offer you resource assistance as you minister in the name of Christ and his Church.

Exciting? Yes! Scary? Yes! Who will make sure no mistakes are made? No one! We will embrace them as they happen, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. And we will be stronger because of this paradigm.

I give thanks for those who dreamed up and coordinated the Festa Italiana as they gave witness to the Church at its best.  May God stir up each of our imaginations as we seek ways to minister in Christ’s name, and then are set free to serve!

It’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum

 

pc

Just a Thought…

“I can’t profess to understand God’s plan, Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.” -Hershel Greene, The Walking Dead

“For God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  -2 Corinthians 5:21

 

One of my favorite shows is The Walking Dead. I know, I know.  It’s not the most “family friendly” of shows. Some might even question why a pastor would watch such a graphic, and sometimes gory, show.

But what I love about The Walking Dead is how it captures the spirit of the human condition- how broken people seek to survive in a broken world.  How some are able to overcome their own foibles  and rise to become heroes, while others with upstanding character fall from grace.  Oh, and I enjoy the zombies, too!

That’s the way of life, actually, isn’t it? One reason I am Lutheran is because  of our understanding of sin, and how it permeates everything. We too, like the folks of The Walking Dead, are a broken people living in a broken world.  Although sometimes we may rise heroically, there will always be times when we fail miserably.

It’s like the Zombie virus. As Rick Grimes would say, “We are the Walking Dead!” There’s no escaping it, it will always catch up with the survivors in the show.  And that’s the same for us when it comes to sin.

It’s as Saint Paul says, “So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me… I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse? Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25).

Yes, thanks be to God for Jesus, who overcame death and the grave to bring life to the world. And in Christ, there is a kind of forgiveness that allows us to start over and begin again… and again… and again.

No, forgiveness doesn’t wipe away the evil we do, the brokenness of our lives. There will always be consequences that come with sin and evil.

However, Christ is able to take our brokenness and transform it, redeem it. Christ keeps sin and death from having the last word. And that is hope that can even overcome zombies!

Just a thought on this All Hallow’s Eve.

+pax et bonum

pc

Just a Thought…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

I remember one time when I was a redevelopment pastor in New Orleans, dreaming with some folks about God’s Vision for the church. Someone had a huge idea—one that would require a significant amount of time, resources, volunteers, advertising, support from local businesses, etc. And as she shared her idea, others began to shake their heads and murmur among themselves… “It’ll never work…,” “It’s too big an endeavor…,” “It’ll be too hard…,” etc.

And I remember getting frustrated by the limitations these folks were placing on us and on God’s church.  It made me wonder:  Do these people tell their children, “Learning to play baseball is too hard.  You will have to learn and practice and play games, and be yelled at by the coach.  You’ll make mistakes.  So, just don’t even try…”?   Do these people tell themselves, “College is too hard.  It’s too expensive, I’ll probably fail, and I won’t find a good job after I graduate.  So, I’m just not going to go”?

Of course not!  In fact, just the opposite.  Good parents teach their children that playing sports (or learning a musical instrument, or learning how to write or color or draw) can be fun and rewarding, but it won’t always be easy.  College will prepare you for adulthood and vocation, but chances are it will not be an easy experience.

I think it’s a copout for churches and church leaders to say that something is too hard, and that’s why we shouldn’t do it.  Difficulty should be measured, but it should not be the determining factor for whether we do the work that God is calling us to do.

So let’s not let the fear of something being hard keep us from daring to following Jesus, wherever he might lead us!

Just a thought!

+pax et bonum
pastor chris