At every Finance and Church Council meeting over the past few months, Mac has asked us, "what kind of church do we want to be?" As in, "what kind of church is God calling BT to be?" All of the issues we are dealing with revolve around vision ("it's all about vision, Patti. Vision leaks."**) and the finances are simply a good excuse to change the vision ("we can't afford a worship leader...or band members...or videos...or the community dinner that serves 100+ people every week...or the videos that wonderfully illustrate the theme of the sermon, etc, etc"). The real reason people don't want those things is because they differ from the vision THEY have for BT, and they are unhappy that BT is moving in a direction they're not comfortable with.
It doesn't matter that we've had a 20% increase in attendance over the past year. Or that we had the largest confirmation class in the history of the church. Or that our congregation is looking more and more diverse. Or that we had at least 20 visitors last week. Or that the vast majority of new members join by "profession of faith". Or that our pastor is one of the most incredible and visionary leaders I've ever encountered.
What matters to this group appears to be that they're happy with the status quo, with traditional worship and a homogenous congregation. They'd rather be financially stable and have things their way than be stepping out in faith, reaching out to the world, embracing different people and situations, and growing in love of God and neighbor. They'd rather be safe.
When I think about the question, "what kind of church is God calling BT to be?" I think of the song below. I posted the video and also the lyrics. Truth be told, I think it describes what every church needs to be...
**Mac and I have had a number of discussions about vision and leadership and what God is doing at BT. I've also noticed some things on my own, but I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
Author: Marty Haugen
Copyright: 1994 GIA Publications
Let us build a house
where love can dwell
And all can safely live,
A place where
saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
Rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions;
Let us build a house where prophets speak,
And words are strong and true,
Where all God's children dare to seek
To dream God's reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness
And a symbol of God's grace;
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
Let us build a house where love is found
In water, wine and wheat:
A banquet hall on holy ground,
Where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus,
Is revealed in time and space;
As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
All are welcome in this place.