Over the years, humankind has been obsessed with varied versions of the “great obsessive quest” – the search for.. the Fountain of youth.. the alchemist formula for turning lead into gold.. the “Holy Grail”.. & of course.. the most rare of all commodities - “NEW CHURCH MEMBERS”! (This quest becoming even more desperate with the slow but noticeable wandering away of “old members”.) As a member of the Board of Governors of our Seminary.. I am said to report however, that we still do not have a class (for future pastors) on “How to fabricate members in the church basement from old Sunday School craft materials.” (Though I’m sure there must be a Website for
that if I search long enough!?!)
All joking aside.. these are strange days for us as church & for all who have a love
for/memory of what the church can be as a thriving, caring, empowered, creative community. And while it would be easy to blame COVID for all this.. at best.. we need to admit that it mostly only sped up the trends.
Such is why even as we are making ready to celebrate our 40th Anniversary of being Bread of Life Lutheran Church, Regina, we (as the council and pastor of the congregation) are also hard at work trying to discern the “What Next” for us as a church. (That is literally the name of the committee – the “What Next Committee”.). These folks are working committedly to get in touch with you and what you feel our church needs to pivot toward in the days/years ahead.
That said.. in this time where we are all wondering what we can do to heal our world.. what we can do to respond to all those things that have “lead us from God”.. in this time where it is a fact that “everything old is new again”.. there oddly is much to be said for some of those good old fashioned things we “used to do.” There is much to be said for looking back and reminding ourselves of what brought US to the church.. what helped seed faith in me.. what connected me to or goaded me to those first tentative steps in my journey of connecting with God and church.
For indeed.. as much as studies show that (unfortunately for me) the quality of sermons is still among the higher ranked reasons people “choose a church”.. a great number of the other things on the list have almost nothing to do with who the pastor is or what they “provide”. Mostly in fact.. they point at YOU.. you - the plain ordinary (more your opinion than mine) folks. They are more pointedly challenging of YOU.. as a person who is actually out there in the world (where all those unconnected/wondering/ searching people live). After all, except for the few oldest members of Bread of Life (who had Pastor Bob Goos literally knock on your door).. my bet is that most of the rest of you were first invited/included in Bread of Life/church by either a family member, a colleague or a friend. Even through to today (all social media venues etc aside) the studies continue to show that almost everyone who ever “risks” wandering into a church did so/does so because someone like plain ordinary YOU invited them – YOU who will meet more people a week (who are looking for God/church) than I (as pastor) likely ever will; ..YOU who has any number of ways to show in your daily living that faith has a role in keeping your life centred and whole! In spite of how little you think you have to offer and/or how poor a job you fear you might do.
And so as we move into the month of celebrating “40 years of Opening Hearts and Opening Doors” my challenge to you is that within this month you take the plunge.. take the risk of having a chat with someone you know who might just be wondering about what faith and church mean to you. Take a risk and invite someone to a service or to a social event or to help out with you at Indigenous Christian Fellowship or whatever.... Take the risk of being the one who strikes the flint in that other person’s heart and set them on fire. (Don’t worry God’s Spirit will
do most of the work in & through you.. so it won’t really be as dependant on you as you fear.) Butprepare yourself to be surprised at what God can do in you!!
What better way to celebrate all that Bread of Life has meant to you than sharing that with someone else???
Please Note: Ultimately, of course, “members”/butts in the pew is never really the point. But connecting people with grace and the Gospel that calls them into abundant life IS!!!!!!
Be well... Be safe... Be Hope!!
- Pastor Stewart – Sept 29/22