Someday, when I’m far too old to enjoy it, I might actually get a full nights sleep.
This past Wednesday, the folks at my church gathered as we always do for dinner and some sort of program. The Wednesday night thing has been hard to sustain at times. It is a deep tradition for some. Some think that a growing church needs an active midweek program. Others just want the opportunity to gather and connect with their friends. So, even though the numbers have struggled a bit, we keep going on as long as someone is willing to cook and folks are willing to provide programgs.
This past week our Welcoming Ministries team led the group in a session on being a welcoming church. This is a theme for the year around here. We think that we need to be more actively involved in inviting and welcoming folks into our community. We are a pretty friendly group, but hospitality in its deepest form hasn’t quite taken root yet, so we are trying to think about welcoming as a practice and lifestyle which becomes infused into our corporate life together.
Anyway, I was sitting back in the room, watching our co-chairs of this team lead the session when it hit me. All of the sudden I realized that there were 30 people in the room, fully engaged in a conversation on welcoming and hospitality, and I wasn’t leading the conversation. You see, one of the things that we pastors talk about regularly is the empowerment of the laity, that we don’t have to do everything. Yet, far too often, folks don’t seem to engage with their peers as well as they do “the authority.” It’s been a point of frustration here that there is a tendency to think that what I say somehow carries more weight than what others say. What I experienced in that moment was the joy of realizing that we were moving to a new place. This was what ministry is about, training and leading folks to lead one another in the life of the church, and in that moment I saw that work coming to fruition.
I really can’t claim any credit for that. I frankly had little to do with it. I set the table, encouraging leadership, but they did all the work. It was just a fun moment to know that I could indeed get out of the way and let things happen, that my controlling nature didn’t make things go better, that God is working among us and leading us to new places.