Monday, April 19, 2021

Futuring the Church: Winter Growth

from author Katherine May on the seasons of life:

"We are in the habit of imagining our lives to be linear, a long march from birth to death in which we mass our powers, only to surrender them again, all the while slowly losing our youthful beauty. This is a brutal untruth. Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again."

Source: Wintering

I have been thinking a lot
about the future of the church,
especially the congregation I serve.

From some measurements,
we are inclined to say,
"The church is in decline."
Membership numbers are decreasing.
Members are aging, in some ways becoming less able.
Buildings are aging, needing more repairs.
In those ways, it seems the church is declining.

But that seems like looking at a tree in winter
when the leaves are gone,
when the fruit has passed,
and declaring the tree dead, only good for firewood.
Don't we know that in winter trees are still growing?
Roots going deeper,
Trunks becoming stronger,
Branches being trimmed ready for new growth,
Cells storing energy for new leaves to come bursting forth.

Perhaps it is better to say,
"This congregation is in a season of winter."
Much is happening deep within
that cannot be measured with the naked eye.

We are becoming more rooted in our faith,
through Spiritual practices,
like prayer, Bible study, giving, 
listening to the needs and hurts of the community, 
in which we live and serve.

We are drawing renewed strength from our core beliefs.
Reexamining who we are as followers of Christ.
Reexamining the neighborhood and neighbors we are called to serve.

Some things are being trimmed away.
Programs and practices that no longer support
our mission or ministry are coming to an end.

The Holy Spirit is preparing us to produce new fruit.

remind us of the growth that comes in winter.
Give us the eyes of faith to see below the surface.
the church is yours.
Give us faith to trust that you will bring about our winter growth.

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