Vital Church Initiative Prescriptions
On Sunday, May 1 the on-line Upper Room devotional quoted Exodus 3:16-18, which reads in part, “Go and get Israel’s elders together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me.’ The Lord said, ‘I’ve been paying close attention to you…I’ve decided to take you away…to a land full of milk and honey.’”
On that same Sunday we received our long-awaited Vital Church Initiatives Report (Portage Chapel Hill’s Consultation Report) report and prescriptions designed to make Chapel Hill an even more vital Church. To summarize (in my words), the prescriptions call us to:
- Implement intentional faith development groups.
- Focus and realign our congregation’s governance structure.
- Plan and implement a deliberate leadership develop program.
- Establish a $1.2 million fund raising campaign to pay for needed repairs and upgrades to our facility, and to pay off our balloon mortgage which is due in three years.
- Evaluate and reformat our worship offerings.
Over the next month we will have the opportunity to attend town hall meetings to discuss these prescriptions and discern whether they are what God is calling us to do. On June 2 we will meet to adopt them in whole, or to reject them and continue with our present ministry programming.
In the most recent post on this blog I told the story of an inmate who preferred the safety of his jail cell over the new life that he was being offered. I think that this story offers a perfect analogy for considering these prescriptions.
If you respond to these prescriptions with a, “Ho-hum,” then we should vote them down.
If you react by saying, “Well, yes, I’ve known that we should be doing these things, but we just haven’t gotten around to them,” then we need to ask ourselves why we haven’t gotten around to them. If it takes coaching from VCI to prod us to do these things, then perhaps we should proceed with the VCI plan. But I think that that would be a poor reason for voting to accept these prescriptions, and a waste of our district’s time, money, and VCI expertise. We simply need to decide to do those things that we have been putting off, that we know we should do, and that we are able to do by ourselves. And then we should do them.
If our reaction to these prescriptions is, “Hmm…this sounds a bit challenging, but with some hard work I think that we can do this,” then I might be tempted to take a few steps outside of that jail cell to test the waters. I’m not sure how I would vote, but I know that I would not be very excited about following through on the prescriptions. I can do hard work, but it isn’t always very inspiring.
However, if I want to run, not walk, back into that cell and slam the door behind me, and if I say to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s absolutely no way we can do this. Only God can do this!” then most definitely I will vote to implement these prescriptions. I need to have my faith tested, and to be challenged to let God use me for the “transformation of the world” in ways that I absolutely cannot do by myself. If only God can pull off these prescriptions, well then, isn’t that what a spiritually rich, Vital Church is all about?
Exodus 3:16-17, “The Lord said, ‘I’ve been paying close attention to you… (and) I have decided to take you away…’”
Do we follow, or do we stay captive, as the writer of Exodus was referring to?
What do you think?