We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
–12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous–
I left us with a question in the last post: do we REALLY believe in a God who has the power to transform the church?
To quote Bishop Vashti McKenzie, “…if so, why don’t we act like it?”
You see, we talk a lot about God’s power,
we play the came of saying that God is sovereign and can bring forth change,
but more often than not our actions suggest that we aren’t really sure that God can do it.
Oh sure, the Holy Spirit is among us,
but the real source of our congregational and denominational change is found in the arms of professional consultants, hired guns with a variety of tools and statistics and charts to explain why we are like we are, and prescriptions for restoring us to greatness.
Yes, God is at work in our midst,
but we really act as if the future of our congregations is found less in the community of the gathered disciples, and more in the latest and greatest next new program.
We say God is in charge,
but our committee structures, our professional staff, and the way we carry ourselves reveals that we think we can control our way into denominational success, structure our way into communal wholeness, and overcome our struggles through the power of the mind.
To say again, if we REALLY believe in a power greater than us to change the church, why don’t we act like it>
We WANT to believe it. We really do.
But it’s hard, because lets face it, those of us who have followed the call to leadership have a hard time of letting go and letting God do what God will. Doing so is so . . . messy. Sure, God sometimes brings a solution in a neat package, but more often than not God’s calling us to get in the dirty with a bloody, smelly Samaritan, to pick them off the ground, carry them to a place where they can experience healing, and spending our money on stuff that has nothing to do with us. Letting God be in charge means that our notions of power and control might get turned upside down — that the finance committee chair may have no specific financial skills, or that we turn over our programs to the kids and youth — who in all honesty are way more creative and enthusiastic than we are.
Here is the good news about this step for us.
It doesn’t say that they believed from the beginning. No, it says that they CAME to believe.
They recognized belief as a process — something that grows over time.
For many in the AA/NA track, belief arose in the midst of despair and hopelessness. It came when things didn’t seem like they could get any worse. In the midst of that dark night of the soul, light began to trickle in which suggested that there might be the possibility of something more. The spark was kindled, and the beginnings of a flame were born.
Yes we believe. But Jesus help our unbelief.
We hear talk of the decline of the church, of the death tsunami’s, of paradigm and demographic shifts that threaten the institution that many have grown up with and love.
We’re not in the pig sty yet, but we can see it just down the street.
Isn’t it time for us to come to our senses and hold open the possibility of a God that really DOES want to transform the church?
What will it take for us to truly believe.
Next time — surrender.