Maybe it’s the summertime lull, which always proves to be a difficult time for churches and church leaders, but I’ve been feeling led to shake things up, stir the pot, wake the angry bull, or whatever other cliche you’d prefer to insert. Maybe it’s the strains and pressures of being a pastor, but I tend to shake off the malaise by shaking up my environment. Out of the remnants of what’s left are always the seeds of new life.
I’m also entering my third year of ministry here at First UMC. Third year is notoriously tough. Pastors spend the first two years getting to know their new congregation and community. It’s a time for honoring, educating, and building trust, so they are criticially important years. But usually by now, it’s time to step up, stir the pot, and set a direction that will take a congregation into its next chapter. Of course, anytime a leader dares to mess around with the good ol’ status quo, things get rough very quickly. I’m already absorbing hits from deviating off the norm.
Fueling my conviction to stir up the pot are some books that God has literally dumped into my lap in the last three days, one from my wife and several others from a church friend who happened to be cleaning out his library. Here are some of the titles:
Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009)
Brian Sanders, Life After Church: God’s Call to Disillusioned Christians (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2007)
Julia Duin, Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do about It (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008)
Vince Antonucci, I Became a Christian and All I Got Was this Lousy T-shirt: Replacing Souvenir Religion with Authentic Spiritual Passion (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008)
Kenneth C. Haugk, Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988)
From the titles, maybe you can piece together what theme I’m centering on. In stirring the pot, I’m challenging current assumptions about church, unnailing them, and throwing them out in order to build a more authentic, Christ-centered, missional Body of Christ. That will undoubtedly be unsettling for some, but by keeping the conversations going between God, these books, my blogging community, and my church family, I’m convinced we’ll discern God’s will together.
As I read, I’ll post some new ideas and invite your reflection, too. I really look forward to that! So, fellow pot-stirrers, let the fun begin!!