At times I worry that as the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church I might have blinders on. I wonder if the perspective I see from is somehow skewed and leading me to the wrong conclusions. The past two weeks have done more to affirm my understanding of the Christ Presbyterian community than anything else I can think of in recent memory.
While at the Evangelism and Church growth conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, I found a deep sense of God’s work in our midst. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the content of the conference. Much of the information and ideas that were being presented were “old” to me. As I sat in the plenary and workshops, I found myself feeling underwhelmed because I was looking for fresh insight. It took a good soak in the Gulf of Mexico to find the morsel that I believe God was seeking me to discover. As I reflected on my disappointment I found something I wasn’t expecting. My disappointment turned to affirmation. I realized that over the past few years, Christ Presbyterian has been employing many of the best practices for congregational transformation. I found God affirming what we have been doing and that led to a deep sense of joy.
I also found affirmation in my role as part of the Presbytery’s Transformation Team. This team seeks to help congregations to discover meaning in current ministry while encouraging the development of new ministries. As part of this team, I have been recruiting churches to be part of the Acts 16:5 Initiative. My time in Florida also confirmed that this program is the natural next step in our life together as a congregation. The Acts 16:5 Initiative will be a wonderful way to help our congregation’s leaders and members take the next steps in God’s continual transformation.
The week following my study leave was of course Vacation Bible School. While I am always excited about VBS, this year seemed to be special. As the week unfolded, I once again sensed a great deal of Godly affirmation about how Christ Presbyterian Church is doing as we seek to fulfill the call of God. There were two major aspects of VBS that provided me with confirmation of my view of Christ Presbyterian being a healthy and faithful community.
First, our registration not only filled up quickly but with an overwhelming majority of people who have no relationship with the congregation. We have made a commitment to practice evangelism and hospitality and our VBS is a wonderful embodiment of that commitment. We cast our net wide and God provided an abundance. Not only did we have a diversity of people from outside our congregation but we also celebrated that fact. Many churches will only offer ministries like VBS with strings attached. Some churches will say, “You can come to VBS if you…” Our congregation partnered with God to simply show hospitality, proclaim the Gospel and trusted God to transform the children. I believe that God was pleased with how our congregation opened it’s heart to the children who attended.
The second point of affirmation I experienced during Vacation Bible School was found in the people who were helping with the ministry. We truly had a diverse and gifted crew. I don’t think that this reality can be overstated. We had recent alumni of our Vacation Bible School working side by side with folks who graduated from VBS sixty years ago. Yet, in the midst of the ministry there was a great example of what we are seeking to do at Christ Presbyterian Church. We want to be a church that is a place for everyone to answer their sacred calling to serve Christ.
Now I don’t say all this to puff us up. Please don’t take this recognition of God’s affirmation as a call to rest on our laurels. We must continue to keep ourselves in intimate contact with the Spirit of God which has led us to this place. Christ Presbyterian Church is seeing a spiritual renewal in its life. I for one am excited to continue that work and see where God leads us next.
- How are you becoming part of the transformation God is leading Christ Presbyterian through?
- Pray for our sister churches who are struggling to see a vital future.