Doing Church On Purpose
In the Board Report that we put out a few weeks ago, our Board Chair, Conrad Zacharias, wrote the following:
“We want to ‘do church on purpose:’ being relevant and reaching our community and culture, not just a continuation of ministry activities that have already fulfilled the purpose they were initiated for. There are many good things WMBC could do, but our desire is to do the things that God is uniquely calling us into.”
In some circles, these statements might sound controversial. For many churches, the greatest goal they could achieve is to maintain the course and preserve the past. Any changes to existing ministries, worship service, or events are met with suspicion or resistance. While change only for the sake of pursuing the new, or the next best thing is not always wise, the opposite is also true. We should not preserve the past simply because it is what we have always done, even if that ministry began for good reasons, or was effective for a time. We must always be asking ourselves whether the things we are doing as a church are actually in line with the values, working towards achieving the mission, and helping us realize the vision that God has set in front of us. As Conrad said:
We don’t want to be a church that just exists, we want to be a church that is intentional about everything we do because it works towards God’s will for our community.
And sometimes, this will means saying “no” to something good so that we can say “yes” to something better.
A great example of this is the Thanksgiving Meal. For many years, WMBC has held a Thanksgiving Meal on the weekend before Thanksgiving as a way of coming together and celebrating as a community. However, over the last few years, the meal has lost some of its original purpose. To try to feed growing numbers, the meal moved to two place settings; one after each service. However, this meant that the first service was asked to eat as quickly as possible so that dishes could be cleaned and put back out for the second setting. It became a forced-feeding event, rather than a celebration of gratitude and community. In addition, the teams of volunteers who organized and ran the Thanksgiving Meal were also at work on Kick-Off Sunday, and/or the Christmas Party, meaning that they were working on three large-scale events within the space of just over two months, and the stress was becoming too much.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still good things about the Thanksgiving Meal. Having the church serve people food is a good thing. Recognizing a holiday based on gratitude is a good thing.
But sometimes, you have to say “no” to something good so that you can say “yes” to something better; you have to run headlong in the direction God has set before you, even if that means running past some good things that would lead you to a lesser goal.
This year, we’re being intentional with the time and energy we usually spend on the Thanksgiving Meal: putting it into events and initiatives that we feel better accomplish our goal of building community. Ultimately, we believe this change is moving WMBC towards our vision: to be FOR our community, to engage people who need to see Jesus and the Church differently, and to bring people into meaningful relationships with God and others.