Can You Become a Better Church?
by Charlie Kuchenbrod
Ridgebury Congregational Church’s pastor, Debbie Rundlett, invited Charlie Kuchenbrod, Executive Associate Conference Minister, to share some stewardship wisdom and a charge to the congregation. Here is that charge.
“God is always calling us to be more than we are.” - Loren Meade
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” - Frederick Buechner
What is God calling you to be?
You have gifts, and gifts need cultivation. Even masters of their craft need to practice. Even the best can work to be better. Can you become a better church? Can you become the church that this community needs at this time?
You have gifts in at least three categories – helping people to belong to something bigger than themselves, helping people to become more than the are, and helping people to bridge to something that is beyond them – beyond all of us. These gifts are expressed now, but may need to be expressed differently in the future. Can you become a better church?
Remember all three categories – if you focus only on belonging, you may be little more than a social club, a worthy thing and it has its place, but it is not a church.
If you focus on belonging and becoming, you may be little more than a school, a worthy thing and it has its place, but it is not a church.
It is only when you bring the beyond
into your call - the sacred, the transcendent, the other, the Holy Spirit, Christ, God - into your call that you realize your gifts as a church! You can become a better church.
Avoid the pitfalls. Don’t let your concern for financial viability starve your spiritual vitality. Keep financial concerns in their proper place. Don’t let the detractors and naysayers keep you from hearing the call to be a better church. Hear concerns with a generous spirit, presume positive intention. Do not expect unanimity – seek consensus and recognize that not everyone will want to join you on this journey. Bless those that are on a different path and stay on your own path. You can become a better church.
Never assume that God is on your side. Always work to align yourself with God and be open to the Stillspeaking voice. You may have to relinquish some things that have been valuable to you in the past, or that are even valuable to you now, as you work to align yourself with God, You can become a better church.
The world is hungry for many things. It can be overwhelming to name the hunger. You are not called to eradicate the hunger. You are called to the place where the hunger, the deep hunger, meets with your deep gladness. If you are not invigorated by the call, if you are not energized and engaged and willing to fully embrace your call, you have not yet found the meeting place. You will need gladness to meet the challenges. When you find the meeting place, the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep need come together, you will become a better church!
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