This is the first time that I am writing for many differing venues. I am writing for both newsletters for the Elkhorn Valley and the Great West. I will be putting this article on the Facebook page for the Elkhorn Valley District and on my blog at reveldon.blogspot.com. This is appearing in the August newsletters. August is that time of year of the summer activities beginning to wind down, schools beginning classes, and the last-minute trips for families. It is also a time for churches to begin their preparations for the fall. As a pastor, I often looked forward as we began the process of planning worship, ministries, small groups, and classes for the upcoming year. It is also a time to begin to work on areas of budget, lay leadership, and preparing the leadership of the churches. I want to remind all churches that now is the time to begin to work on budgets for next year and to look at the structure of the committees or teams prior to charge conferences which are just around the corner. The key is to begin now and not procrastinate to the last minute.
I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I have had regarding church and what it is and what it is not. I had read on Facebook (I’m sorry that I did not note it when I read it) an article written by a younger pastor that was titled, “Why going to church is not important.” Initially I thought that this would yet another article about how to reach the millennials through social media, streaming videos, and other devices to encourage the individualistic experience of worship. Normally I would pass this type of article which is often a diatribe about how church is failing, but instead I thought I would read fully prepared to be apologetic quoting Hebrews 10:25, “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. (CEB)” I wanted to point the importance of meeting together and in the encouragement and sharing with one another. Just as I was ready to comment, the author turned the idea upside down. He said in effect that going to church was not important as he realized he is the church. What a concept that a change of proposition would make in the outlook of what church is. It is not that we go to church but we are the church. That famous camp song, “I am the church/You are the church/ We are the church together.”
I thought about what that may mean if we would focus more on what the author of Hebrews stated, “encourage each other,” rather than going to something as if something is being done to and for us. What if we could take seriously what Paul says in Romans 12 and most succinctly in 1 Corinthians 12, that we are the body of Christ each of us bestowed with our unique gifts to be used to make disciples of Jesus. Church than becomes both a gathering of fellow believers (ecclesia) and encouraging, equipping, and evangelizing (koinonia). Rather than pursuing the individualistic fervor of church, much like the televangelists, we need to recognize the importance of what church is and what it offers. Church is more than the pastor, the musicians, the media, the PowerPoint it is about we together. Church works best when we consider that each of us is the church and we become the church when we work together. When we can do this, be the 1 Corinthians 12 Christians, the church is able to do so much more. If we spend time just looking at church as to what is in it for me, the church fails. We need to work together to provide a means to evangelize and make disciples.
Therefore, the conference is in the process of developing network teams to provide resources to help strengthen the churches in their networks. The teams will consist of a lay network leader and a clergy network leader who will be trained to work with a network of churches. Each church’s team would include the lay leader and the clergy, who will work with the network leaders in ways to become more vital in their ministries with the partnership of clergy and lay leadership. For the Great West, these teams have been in place. We will be working on continuing to build the teams. For Elkhorn Valley, this will be something new (in reality it is something old, class meetings, societies, and bands.) The leaders for clergy have been asked and the training will be in August. I am looking forward to this exciting partnership to help build the body of Christ for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus to transform the world.
Until next time, blessings
Rev. Eldon Davis, District Superintendent of Elkhorn Valley and Great West Districts.