A few things have me thinking about the human desire to control things in the Church (and life in general) today. One is this great blog post by a pastor friend of mine in Pennsylvania – Dave Schreffler. Here’s the quote that caught my attention and gave me some inspiration to write:
We spend so much time in the church trying to control everything. We want to control the service: the noise and the temperature and the time and the length of it all. We want to control the ministry: the places, the people, the frequency, and the cost. And here we are trying to control everything while Jesus says that the Kingdom of G*d is like something that cannot be controlled, will spread to places no on wants it, and that it will attract people we do not necessarily want.
The second thing that got me thinking about this is another article by Thom Shultz. Here’s the line that caught my attention:
People are leaving their churches because they feel excluded. Excluded from participating in the communication of the message.
Top that off with a conversation I had this morning with a Finnish high-ranking clergy member who talked very openly about the need to change how the church interacts with people. The idea being that the church cannot continue to take a finger-waging authoritative approach to dealing with people, but rather should be walking with people and building partnerships with people.
The point this clergy member was making, and is really the main point of the two articles I linked to has to do with control. Who is in control and who do we trust? Gone are the days when people will just blindly follow whatever the pastor or bishop says because they are the pastor or bishop. What would happen if we turned the keys to the church over to the people? Good question. What would happen? We don’t know. Who knows, maybe the Spirit would show up and amazing things would happen. Does that scare you? Being scared isn’t a bad thing – it’s a natural human reaction to the feeling of not being in control.
What would happen if we turned over our life over to God? Who knows. It could be scary. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it can be outright frightening. “You want me to do what God? You want me to go where? Are you sure about that? Maybe you should double-check that? I’ve got bills to pay.” That’s the type of comments I have made. And yet, I am reminded, again and again and again (because I can be really stubborn, set in my ways and really like being in control) that God is faithful. And each time I listen, the result may not be what I want or what I expected, but it is exactly what I need.