April 12, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Thirty-Seven

Week Six: It’s the End of the Church As We Know It

Reflection for the Week: How can I develop courage to cast a vision for a new church?

Have you ever been a part of a beginning? Not a beginning again, but a true beginning of something that never was before? I have had the privilege in my ministry to be in on the ground floor of some new things. Some have lasted, and some lived for a while and faded away.

In 1996, when I arrived at Foothills UMC, there were two Sunday morning hours of worship and a Wednesday evening contemporary worship experience called “Wednesday Night Alive.” The two hours on Sunday morning were the same liturgy and worship style. When we, as a congregation, began to think a new thing, that is, dedicating one service to traditional worship and another to contemporary, it was a challenge to do something new. There were fears of dividing the congregation, or giving priority to the new service and not the traditional service, causing it to lose ground. We were blessed that our fears were not realized. And, in it all, we learned some things.

We learned that some people worship based on the time they come to church, others on the style of worship. We learned that more than one style didn’t mean more than one congregation. As a church we were one.

This is one of the essential characteristics of a healthy church and a healthy faith. It is the ability to learn and to grow. Jesus said, “Those who have eyes let them see, those who have ears let them hear.” I believe he was calling us to constantly see new things and hear a new message of hope relevant to the world in which we live.

If the church is to stay relevant, we must continue to learn and grow in new ways. What new things could God be calling us to next?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, They say you are new every morning. Made in your image, may I be, too. Amen.

Rev. John Farley
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference