Are you excited about your community of faith? A week ago this question came to me after I had a conversation with someone who represented the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry. The Committee on Ministry (COM) is the committee that is charged with the care of pastoral relationships. COM is often the team that helps congregations and pastors negotiate the troubled waters of life. My visit thankfully was not due to any issue but was part of the COM’s listening visits by their Care Team. The COM is seeking to be proactive in building relationships with Pastors before any needs arise. This is a great initiative. Far too often, the only time a congregation or pastor has contact with COM is when they are in conflict.
The reality that COM is mostly engaged in the work of conflict resolution led me to my question about being excited about your community of faith. My visit with the Care Team member was a pleasant experience. Since there was not an agenda, it afforded me the opportunity to talk about my ministry, the congregation of Christ Presbyterian Church and my family. I told of the work I have been engaged in over the seven plus years I have been at Christ Presbyterian. I told of our worship, music and mission. I spoke of how we have built a strong congregational life through relationship with God and one another.
It is always a joy to be able to talk about how God is blessing our congregation and my ministry. That is why I was struck by one statement that was made by the COM representative. After I went on for a while about these blessings she said, “You’re excited about being here.” This statement had two effects on me. First, I was once again thankful that, yes, I am indeed excited to be the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church. Why wouldn’t I be? Is Christ Presbyterian a utopia where we everything is perfect, not by any means, but it is a place that is filled with great people who are seeking to share the love of Christ with the world.
The second affect her statement had was a sense of sadness. I imagine that she and the others on the Care Team sit down pretty frequently with Pastors and other leaders and don’t find excitement. This makes me spiritually sad for those pastors and congregations. Don’t get me wrong; I have been in that very same place in my ministry. My sadness and concern comes from the fact that the COM representative seemed to be surprised that, when given the opportunity to talk about ministry and congregational life, I chose to spend my time in a positive place. This is my default setting. It has not always been the case. There was a time when I found it more natural to first complain.
This positive and exciting worldview is more than optimism. I believe that at the heart of the Gospel is a calling to find life and energy from God’s presence in our lives. This should draw us to look for the goodness and mercy of God in all things. Yet many, if not most, of us are still slaves to the bondage of negativity and despair. Scripture reminds us continually that we must transform our thought and practice to reflect the grace of God expressed in Christ. Are we trapped in an endless cycle of gazing into the tomb, or are we free to find Christ in the garden or along the road to Emmaus?
This perspective shift is not just for Clergy. There are countless ways that congregants fail see the goodness of God filling the pews. I am thankful that overall Christ Presbyterian is blessed to see the good in our life together. Still, I wonder how often we compare ourselves to other congregations? How do we minimize what God is doing?
This week I encourage you to reflect on these questions:
- Are you excited about your community of faith?
- How do you share that excitement with those around you?