“What would happen if we “new” pastors were able to go into our “new” appointments filled with all the love and growth that has occurred throughout our previous appointments along the journey, and concentrate on ONE THING with the love and full support of the “new” congregation?”
I am a United Methodist Clergy, and I’m being reappointed July 1. While I am super excited for the new opportunities for ministry with a new group of people who love Jesus, I’m also a bit sad about leaving the place I have served, worked alongside of, and broken bread with for the past 4 years.
I began to think about the moves to “new” churches that I have had in my life. What did we accomplish together? Where did we join God in His work in the community? How did we grow together in faith? How did we share love? I’m pretty sure that we will all continue to answer these questions for many more years. I also wondered what it was that God continues to call me to. It seems that with every church that I serve, the task changes a bit; or perhaps it is that I change and have been changed by the folks I have served and worked alongside of and broken bread with.
What would happen if we “new” pastors were able to go into our “new” appointments filled with all the love and growth that has occurred throughout our journey, and begin ONE THING with the love and full support of the “new” congregation? I don’t mean a new program or study group or way of music in worship. No, I mean ONE THING that would more deeply connect us to the surrounding community.
This ONE THING would most certainly look different in each place. This ONE THING would invite us to draw closer to God and to neighbor. After all, that was Jesus’ ONE THING, right? (Well, maybe two things rolled up into ONE THING – ONE simple but difficult thing, ONE amazing but complicated thing, ONE life changing and community changing thing…).
As UM ministers, we are taught in seminary to NEVER go into churches and try to change anything for at least the first year. What a load of BS! Of course things will change! We will begin to learn about one another – and we didn’t even KNOW each other before! New relationships will form, new ways of being community will break forth, new ways of working out disagreements will be learned….the list is endless!
But change, real change is God’s work. Not mine. I have, just as you have, been invited to come along side of God and with the presence and power and love and grace of Jesus Christ, go into our communities and be a part of this God work.
So, what if we (the Church) radically stopped trying to program change with our assumptions about needs in our communities, and began to open ourselves to God work happening among the people NOW? And what if our congregations fully supported and loved their new minister in such a way to allow ONE CRAZY, SIMPLE, RADICAL, COMPLICATED, NEIGHBORHOOD GOD WORK THING to permeate their work, for at least that first year (although I warn you, this is really infectious)? Just writing these words causes my heart to race and my brain to explode in thoughts of opportunities and possibilities.
What would your ONE THING be? Let’s start a revolution, a movement toward Jesus’ ONE THING of loving God with all we have and loving our neighbor as ourselves. God is already at work! How will you join in? What will your ONE THING be?