In “Leading a Life with God” Daniel Wolpert does a good job comparing secular and church organizations. His conclusion is that churches look too much like secular organizations and not enough like churches. He uses Jesus as his model. He pointed out that if you look at Jesus’ ministry you will not find him forming boards, looking for buildings to occupy, or trying to invent the perfect ministry program that can then be duplicated at satellite campuses the world over. Jesus does ministry that fits the place, time, and needs of where he is. When he needed a food ministry he asked God to bless some fish and feed 5,000. When he needed to spread the word he sent his disciples out by twos with little, though specific instructions. When he wanted to preach a boat worked just as well as anywhere else for a pulpit. His focus was on God’s kingdom and not the sustaining of a program, name, or denomination.
This week Liz and I are at the Arkansas Annual Conference of the UM Church. The focus for this year is Imagination as the conference as a whole works on looking toward the future. This is a great focus, but I know from experience the resistance to change in the church and those that cannot look beyond what was, in order to see what can be. It prompts me to ask the question, what are we afraid of? Why do we have a commitment to buildings and programs? Is it that they are too comfortable and too much like home (Jesus was homeless by the way)? Do we create a “winning” program and think so much of ourselves that we think it should last forever? Does the appropriately sacred idea of an eternally faithful God make us think that nothing in the church itself should ever change?
My vision for our kids at Angel House is a world without fear, one based on faith and hope. As a church I cannot help but think that we would be better served, and more importantly would better serve God, if we could let go of what is comfortable and step out in faith that God will lead the way. To leap is scary, to go without a well supported business plan can create anxiety, and the idea of having to rely on others can make a type A, independent person like myself more than nervous. Just this past week I had to rely on others to house and transport me after my car was struck by lightning and I ended up stranded in Jackson. It was uncomfortable, but also allowed the connections of dependence that can so enrich our lives if we let them. Our lives should be lived openly and unafraid as we strive to create space for God’s kingdom without the worry of maintenance, but with only the hope of life.