Last Thursday through Sunday I was two hours from home at a little camp in Spicer, MN with about nine churches who are at a point in their life where they need to consider their future–some more so than others. They are all wonderful, amazing, beautiful, interesting people, and they care deeply for their churches.
(Churches are a lot like families, only with a higher expectation to stick it out, and stay together.)
I am on the Transformational Ministry team for Region 3, which is an official way of saying, “I’m part of a group of people who help churches from the ‘Tri-Otas’ (North DakOTA, South DakOTA, MinnesOTA) reconsider what God is up to in the world, and how they can act more like Jesus in their neighborhood.”
Many churches start off with a bang, lots of energy and lots of money. They’re made up of people who feel like they have been given a second chance at life and are excited about sharing that with others. After twenty or eighty years of living together, and getting settled into a particular way of doing things, it’s easy to forget what that initial excitement felt like. Sometimes, they even forget that they were never expected to just hangout with one another in the first place. This is ok. It’s also sad. LIke a 40 year old virgin living at home with their parents. That’s ok. But it’s sad.
So, at these little gatherings, we re-explore the reasons they became a church in the first place. We look at what God has been upto in the world ever since we’ve been keeping a journal about it (le Bible), and provide them an opportunity to take stock of what they have to offer the world, rather than wallowing in the frustration of what they don’t have. It was amazing to watch the transformation. On the first day, many of the groups seem defeated. On Sunday morning, when they shared their six month plans for leading their congregation through the transformation process, they were on fire and passionate.
I am humbled to be a part of this process with these people. I would love to just spend a year with any/all of these communities and walk with them through this difficult transition time. Maybe someday I will be freed up for that kind of ministry. Until then, I am happy to help lead these retreats. Meanwhile, I am developing a web resource and community site for the congregations who have been through the training, as well as any group that might be considering this process.