I told the church yesterday I feel like my head is under water. My right ear has been clogging up lately, then reopening, but for the past two days its been completely closed so that I’m not hearing very well. It’s annoying, and it’s giving me an appreciation for the feelings of those who begin to experience hearing loss. I’m headed to the doctor this morning to see what the deal is.
But yesterday, the head-under-water image was appropriate. We talked about baptism. And when three people were baptized into Christ, a palpable sense of joy ran through the church, and I understood more about what men and women called into ministry are really doing. As I stood watching the people react in joy to the ones giving their lives to Christ, something moved inside me that helped me understand more about what Bill Hybels means when he talks about the stakes being high every week, every day.
A friend sent me an email from a minister working elsewhere in Washington State that lamented how churches don’t really change. Especially older established churches. What they traditionally do (and statistics bear it out) is maintain, keep the older members happy, and leave the dynamism of new life up to the young people, who go elsewhere and start new churches that will go through pretty much the same cycle–early growth, maturing, resistance to change, then long, slow death.
Maybe. I suppose it’s true…maybe.
The NW Church is over 100 years old.
We live in a time of what seems like colossal change. All that’s good, all that’s true, and all that’s beautiful seems to be up for grabs. Barbara Brown Taylor’s words “what a Christian looks like is always an open question” ring loud and clear in my heart. There is a discovery that must be launched over and over again. New songs must be sung, new journeys must be taken, and new prayers must be lifted. On Saturday, the small group leaders of our church met for six hours, looking at where we are and where we’d like to go, re-visiting the idea that whenever people get together–again–stakes are high. This coming Friday and Saturday, the elders will go on retreat together, fasting and praying for vision and renewal.
We have so far to go in our journey to God. And yet, He is here in this moment, moving among His people over on 15th Ave. NE. I’m not sure we’re running whitewater wide and strong yet, but the streams of living water are emerging with more and more clarity. I think Kingdom change, Spirit growth, even transformation–they are possible, and they are coming. How the Spirit of God drives these matters is beyond me, like many things, but this is where trust comes in. Belief is one thing, trust is another.
Heart propelled living water…