Thursday, April 18, 2013

Everything Is The Same, But Different

Pastor Linda Jean shared last Sunday a phrase she often heard growing up, "everything is the same, but different."  So it appears to be here at Girdwood Chapel.

Now that our pastor of twelve years is gone, Girdwood Chapel looks/feels the same, but different.   While I don't pretend to know WHY we weren't immediately assigned a new pastor, nevertheless it would appear (to the untrained eye) that this might be a good time for our chapel's congregation to look at itself critically.  While we await the appointment of a new pastor, it's a good time to ask ourselves some very important questions:

Why do we attend Girdwood Chapel?  If Girdwood Chapel ceased to exist, would anyone (but ourselves) notice it?  Does Girdwood Chapel need to change/improve anything?

With a new pastor, some things will change, of course; however, what should those changes be? Must we wait passively and accept what/who we're given, or can we anticipate change, prepare ourselves for it, and become part of the process?

One thing I've noticed (in retrospect) is that perhaps, too often, the church relies so much on its pastor that it loses sight of its collective responsibility to one another.  A body isn't composed solely of a head.  We are a BODY of believers with different parts (spiritual gifts/abilities) to help coordinate us.  (For more on this concept, look at 1 Cor 12:12-27.)  

This "interim" gives us the chance to take a look at what all of us "bring to the table."  Who are the hands of the church, the heart, the feet, of change here at Girdwood Chapel?  What are our role(s) in (re)making Girdwood Chapel a visible, vibrant, and valuable part of our own lives, those of the congregation, and then to the community at large.  

So, how do we go from here?  The United Methodist Church leadership has given us five "talking points" to help us.  We are at step two of the process -- (re)discovering our "identity."  

I have NO idea how we do that, so I unabashedly proclaim to you a "cut-and-paste" suggestion taken directly from the Internet.  I don't own it; I'm not promoting it, either.  Like you, I'm trying to figure out what it might mean.  Here's one person's "take" on the issue:

Paths to Discovering a Church’s Identity

Congregational Identity

The Spiritual Dynamic

What are our Biblical values?
What are our Biblical convictions?
What spiritual experiences have most of us had?
The Demographic Dynamic

What is our age?
What is our income?
Where do we live and work?
What is our ethnicity?
The Organizational Dynamic

How do things get done?
How do we communicate with each other?
How are decisions made?
What programs/activities do we do together?
Who is admitted as a member, and as a leader?
How do we relate to other churches and our denomination?
Our Community Identity

Research through government publications
Research through interviewing community leaders
Research through home-to-home visitation
©Mark Kelley 2010
There will be an all-church meeting after the 10 a.m. church service this coming Sunday.  We will be discussing these and other questions at this time.  Lunch and child care are provided.  All we need now is a good number of folks to be present for the discussion.  Thank you for attending!