Looking back, moving forward

This past Sunday was another weird experience for me. I felt led to remind us of who we want to be as a church, making the connection between the vision statement we’ve agreed upon as a church and the early church as described in Acts chapter 2. I think I got a little too high opinion of myself in the process. Well, that’s not quite right. I sort of freaked myself out with, “This better be good, and if it is good, we can use it more in the future to introduce people to NFC, blah blah blah.”

Here’s a link to what I had prepared. I felt ok about it, but not great. First service, I spoke pretty much what is written here, but I didn’t ask the questions I had prepared about how each of us lives out the different lines of our vision statement. I asked instead if people had any leadings or words or phrases or longings they felt led to share about NFC and the upcoming year. One woman said “healing”, which resonates with what I’ve heard from several other people.

I spent some time praying and listening between services, and decided to really simplify. One of our other pastors wrote a note that reminded me that praise and thanks to God are a key for both being content and longing for more. That really helped me, and I felt much better about what I said in second and third service. It wasn’t hugely different from what I prepared, but it was different. I also changed the questions yet again, and asked people to share things that God had done in the past year for which we could offer thanks, and any longings for the year ahead. The sharing was good.

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3 thoughts on “Looking back, moving forward

  1. As one of the participants in the writing of the vision statement, I’m just glad to know it’s not sitting uselessly in someone’s file cabinet somewhere. I love how it reflects what I think of as the whole Gospel and the way it cycles upward and outward. I’m glad you have used it to remind us who we have been and who we are becoming.

    I also love it when you take the time to listen to Christ and say what’s on his mind. It was good.

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  2. Thanks Gregg for being sensitive to the leading of the holy spirit between services Sunday. You did a good job of connecting the individual points of the vision statement into hope for the future. In the second service people who responded focused more on blessings from the past year than that hope for the future. That’s good, but left me wanting to share a hope that the increasing number of people in our gathering who are expressing a vision for touching peoples lives “out there” will be recognized and joined. There, I said it. And that is the challange that you have shared for a number of years. Thank you for being faithful to your heart’s call even when the gathered seem slow to respond.

    Dave Woolsey

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  3. I liked what you wrote about both/and Christians. It reminds me of an old Quaker quotation, something about how they were changed men before they went out to change the world. Don’t ask me who said it. It may even be a scriptural reference I didn’t get.

    But I am also thinking of the comparison between the 3000 convinced in Jerusalem and the thousands convinced in northwest England. And it was not containable. It was not manageable. It was not neat and tidy. Are we willing to be overrun by the Spirit breaking into thousands of hearts?

    Right now I’m reading Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1775. This was not the original anarchic phase of Quakerism. But I am still challenged by the premise that these women gave everything to follow Christ’s lead. Their call to God’s service was seen as more important than anything else, including their families and homes. I can’t even imagine how unusual that must have been in the 1700’s. Would it be more or less unusual today? Is it striking precisely because they were women? Or just because they took God so seriously? What would I be willing to give to follow Christ’s lead? For how long would I be willing to leave home if God called me? How much human disapproval would I be willing to surmount?

    What price are you (collective or individually) willing to pay to follow Christ? How long are you willing to spend listening? (I was jolted recently by a passage quoted on Marshall Massey’s blog about the expectation for ministers and elders to hold a three or four hour long weekly meeting for worship, outside of First Day.) What level of chaos could we tolerate? What changes in the way we manage ourselves would be required? In the 1600’s, Fox had to set up meetings for business. In the 1800’s, (some) Midwestern Friends had to hire pastors.

    Where will Holy Obedience lead us next? I think I’m going to have to re-read Thomas Kelly again.

    May God bless and keep you always.

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