Tuesday, July 22, 2014

We are Meant to be Here!

Last night, I was caught flat-footed.  It was not a bad thing in the least.

During our congregation council meeting, I was working through a "Finding Your Story" process which I had found immensely helpful in my own understanding of my calling as a pastor and person.  This process was actually meant to be done by groups as large as an entire congregation, so I asked my council to participate.

We spent 30 minutes dealing with six questions, the last one being, "The quotation reads, 'Your church can't be anything it wants to be, but  it can be everything God wants it to be.'  What do you think God's vision is for our church?"

During the duration of the question/answer time, I tried to remain as silent as possible.  This exercise was the council's exercise of which I tried to facilitate not dominate.  I wanted to hear what they thought of themselves.  The conversation was extremely fruitful for me to just listen, and I did so for this question as well. 

One of the answers caught me flat-footed. 

"God wants us TO BE HERE."

That was it.  An explanation followed:

One of the previous pastors came in and said he was basically told to shut the place down.  The synod had done demographic studies and all sorts of other studies which told them the congregation would not survive and it needed to move to a nearby town if it had any chance to continue.  The pastor had been sent to bury the last member and then shut the doors.  But no one here wanted that.  No one here wanted to see the doors of the church shut.  We didn't want to move and then be absorbed by another congregation or what have you.  Something then happened.  There were about 60 of us in worship at the time, and that little group managed to build a fellowship hall and a church building.  We managed to pay it off, and here we are now, thriving.  God wants us TO BE HERE!

Other thoughts were added: 

Yet, we don't want to get a big head about this, because then we get arrogant and think it was all about us.  We need to be humble.

I added:

That's why we preach the Gospel.  The Gospel tells us that it was and is God working through us to accomplish things.  We know everything comes from Him, so when the Gospel is preached and takes hold of us, we cannot get arrogant.  God wants us TO BE HERE and to PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL--WHAT HE HAS DONE.

Wrestling with God's vision for a congregation is a difficult thing.  Oftentimes, congregations focus on what they believe they are supposed to be doing.  Because of this, many times, it's not so much God's vision that comes through but the peoples' vision of themselves, but this seemed different.

GOD WANTS US TO BE HERE!  Being.  Not doing, being.  A presence formed by the Gospel and proclaiming that Gospel.  A presence formed by God's action in Jesus Christ and letting the community know about that action.  Everything flows from this.  Everything. 

This caught me flat-footed because the answer came so quickly from one of my council members.  It was not something agonized over and wrestled over with difficulty.  It flowed.  It caught me flat-footed because of its simplicity.  It caught me flat-footed because it seemed right--deep down in the core of my being, I sensed it was the Truth.  It caught me flat-footed because I expected something quite different, but what was said and brought forth was better than whatever expectation I had.

God wants us to be here.



Anonymous said...


John Flanagan said...

Perhaps, God's vision for your church is for you to leave the heretical ELCA and form a confessional and faithful body which not only claims to follow the Gospel, but actually does.

Kevin Haug said...

How do you define "the Gospel", John?

Kathy Suarez said...

This is the definition of the Gospel in the words of Jesus himself:

Luke 24:45-47

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

"repentance for the forgiveness of sins" not "sin is OK"

Kevin Haug said...

The Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15: Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters,* of the good news* that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters* at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.* 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

In a nutshell: John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world...

And just in case you missed it, Kathy, check verse 11 really, really carefully--Whether then it was I or they... Peter or Paul or any of the disciples of the early Church, this was their proclamation. Period. No matter what you may try to spin.

Kathy Suarez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Suarez said...

"5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

Thx. Another great scriptural proof of the Primacy of Peter.

Kevin Haug said...

If you want to go down that road logically, then you have to acknowledge that Jesus first appeared to the women at the tomb, then Mary Magdalene giving them primacy.

Kathy Suarez said...

Actually, with all reverence, the mystics say that Jesus first appeared to Mary his mother in her house. This is perfectly logical.

Kevin Haug said...

Someone has officially just jumped the shark.

Kathy Suarez said...

Your Faith is too small. Ask for more.

Kevin Haug said...

And yours isn't?

Kathy Suarez said...

I have not finished the race yet. Like an athlete, I train and run the race to receive the crown. Union with God is a gift, but I must prepare for it. I am not going to be zapped by Grace and taken to heaven, as you preach. That is heresy. Christ gave us his Word, the Sacraments and the Church to guide us and help us to go heaven. Luther accidently smashed all this. I am trying to put it back together. That is my mission.

You are a good and smart man. I am convinced that you will soon understand this.

Your denomination is badly messed up. Now it is supporting Hamas and Open Borders. It has become a wing of the Obama Administration. ELCA = Every Liberal Cause Accepted.

Ultimately, all this will cause the heretical denominations to collapse. This is how the Church will be united.


Kevin Haug said...

Like an athlete, I train and run the race to receive the crown.

You are not good enough of an athlete. You will never win. Neither will I--if it is up to our own efforts. You misunderstand Paul.