September 28, 2009
I like having clergy who generally know their stuff – who are able to use the resource of their minds to preach and teach so that all might know the good news. Yet – it’s also true that we have oodles of laity who might enliven our preaching, folks who ARE leaders in the faith, whose voices are seldom heard apart from council meetings and private conversations in the parking lot or over coffee. What if we encouraged everyone to preach? Yes, trained rostered clergy on a regular basis. But also our lay members on a regular basis – and not just when the pastor’s away on holidays! They would be nurtured and helped by the pastor, yes, and if necessary, closely overseen. But we need our eyes opened to the good news wherever God is present, and too often we only see the world from the pastor’s vantage point. A bit too narrow a view.
This also goes for presiding at Holy Communion and Baptism. Again, I don’t want a free-for all – but too often we don’t celebrate Christ’s holy meal because the pastor’s not available, even though the meal is in fact needed – pastorally, prophetically – at that time. “Do this in memory of me…but only when you have a rostered clergy present.” I don’t know, I don’t remember that being in the Gospels or Paul’s letters…
I wonder…are we missing out on one of the ways Jesus has promised to be with us because we are scared of trusting one another?
September 17, 2009
Him: I looked at the church roles and there were over 150 kids baptized there the past 10 years. And where are those kids and their parents now? Very few of them are in church.
Me: And is that because the parents are getting their babies “done” and not taking the promises all that seriously? Or the congregation is not taking a greater role post-baptism? Or pastors are not taking on the education and formation demands baptism now needs? I wouldn’t want to lose the baptism of infants. I still think that’s God’s graciousness at work.
Him: Me too. But still, what of those kids? So now I’m thinking if someone wants to have their child baptized, I’ll still say yes. I’ll say : “Yes! It might take three years. When can we start?”
Me: (laughing) I wonder what would happen?
September 5, 2009
Some of our buildings are used extensively. Every day the building is used: by the church itself, by community groups, by folks who rent the building at low cost. But some of our buildings are barely opened apart from Sunday morning, and those churches end up using much of their funds for the upkeep of their buildings. What if we sold them? Or found a way to make better use of them? “Use it or lose it”? (I know that’s not possible in all settings…small rural communities in particular. Our churches there may be the only building dedicated to worship and prayer. So then the “use it” part becomes more important.) Money could be used for salaries for people doing mission. Or our buildings could be hubs of community activity….the goal being to have the buildings used, and drop any fees if that’s the barrier to their use in the community.
But even more than good stewardship of our buildings, maybe we need house churches: the small communities that through trust, accountability, and the abounding power of the Spirit transform our lives. Sometimes people go to worship and make no connection with a wider group. And some people like it that way (my sister being one…Hi, sweetie! Yes, I’m talking about you.). And that can and does feed people (my sister being one). But I wonder what is missing: a community of support when things are rough, people who know you well enough to challenge you when you’re being selfish, people who remind you not to put yourself down and celebrate you as you are, people to ask you to help them and the people they love (mission to the world….), people to love you. And that’s one of the things I wish most for the church. Are house churches a better way to do that?
See also Tim’s post on August 25: What if…we sold our buildings?