Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Conversation Filled with Sighs...

Central had it annual Church picnic down by the river this past Sunday. We have a great time, and invite the Harbour community to join in the fun by listening to the band (Blue Grass this year) and we give away free hot dogs for an hour or so to all who want them. We use the picnic as a way of growing as a community, growing awareness that our community needs to be permeable, and invite folks to come down to the Harbour Club House for worship during the following week. It's a good time, and I think we present a good witness for the Kingdom.

During the hot dog hour a man who is a member of a local church came up to me and, knowing that their congregation recently lost it's "dual-yolk" status, I asked him how things were going. "Well, OK, you know we lost our pastor, right?" I responded in the affirmative and asked him how they were doing, "OK I guess, I don't know why he decided to leave, I mean he knew what we were coming in. He wanted to do Adult Education, and I told him that he didn't have enough time on Sunday to do that."

I asked him about the other six days of the week, and if maybe he wanted to do some education on those days. He said, "I guess he could have meant that, I mean he did a history of [his tradition] back in the fall a year or so ago and I thought that was good - but we have our independent bible group and we're happy with that. He knew we were happy with what we had coming in, I just don't get why he left."

As generously as I could I said, "That's why he left. You were happy with what you had and what you were, but the role of a pastor isn't to keep you happy, it's to help you be disciples. If you weren't going to go anywhere, he wasn't going to stick around for that." He blinked a bit and said, "I guess I can understand that, I still don't get why he didn't see what we were coming in though. Now we've got some options. We can find a retired pastor to come to us part-time, I don't see that happening. We can close, I really don't see that happening, or we can just get pulpit supply in on Sundays and keep doing what we're doing."

Before I could recommend that their church had decided to be dead, so they should be honest and just close it this gentleman said, "Thanks for talking," and went and watched the band. As I replay the conversation in my head I shudder to think of how close Central was to that point - where not only was it not going to budge, but also lose it's ability to budge. We were fortunate, we had many more resources and some spark of passion for the Gospel left in the Church - but even still there were grumblings of "we're happy, you knew that coming in" for a good 2 1/2 years before I could sense Central starting to breathe again; and 3 1/2 years because I began to see it's breathing in action. In the end I think the bulk of people here decided to be faithful, even if they're still forming the picture of what that means in their minds - and it made all the difference. I hope we never forget.

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