Dear Church Family and Friends,
Once upon a time, or so the story goes, Rod Serling was interviewed about the task of writing—something he knew a good deal about—and when the interviewer asked him to describe his creative process, Serling replied, “Writing is actually easy. You just sit at the typewriter and stare at the blank paper until little beads of blood pop out on your forehead.”
Whenever I am supposed to be writing (a sermon, for instance, or a paper for school…or a letter for the newsletter) and words are not just flowing magically through my fingertips, I think of that and raise a glass of Diet Coke to his memory. And then go back to staring at the screen as though I might be able to manifest something through sheer force of will.
And then I do what I should have done in the first place: I turn off the music, close my laptop, and pray. I pray for God’s guidance and inspiration in writing, and for God to use me to share the message that people—or someone—needs to hear at that particular moment in time.
“Why?” you ask. And, if you’re feeling particularly salty, you might expand on that with, “You’re writing about a being of infinite love and grace, who created the universe and has loved us from the very beginning. How do you run out of things to say?” And the answer, of course, is that you don’t—but sometimes you run out of ways to say it. Sometimes you feel like the pastor who posted the message on the church sign: “God good. Sin bad. Visit us Sunday for details.”
That happens to churches, too. At first there’s a glorious time when everything is new and it’s carried along by excitement; because what you’re doing is working, you slavishly follow that same model for years…decades…until one day you realize it’s not working anymore. You look at what your church did, and what it does, and do the math. Suddenly—or not so suddenly—your church is no longer thriving and shining in the community, but is instead engaged in a rear guard action that you can only hope will give it time to turn around.
Or you can reinvent your church…or, perhaps, how your church does church. You may even seek to combine resources with other like-minded churches—the “vital merger” you’ve been hearing about for some months, now—so that you will be logistically equipped to engage in new ministries and revive old ones that are still relevant. The “trick” is to make yourself open to change, and willing to go where the Spirit takes you.
So pay attention to the discussions over the next few months, and if you’re of a mind to help discern and plan, let those who are actively dreaming of tomorrow’s church know you’re available. Whether it a merger of two or more churches, or some other way forward that allows us to engage in ministry to our community, the dreamers are dreaming right now.
See you in church!