Sunday, January 24, 2016
On Visiting a New Church for the first time
I had a Sunday off and was not sure if I would play hookey or attend worship. We met a couple at the movie theatre Friday and talked about our churches so I decided to visit a fellowship in my original denomination.
Twelve year old church plant, two services, soft rock bank, good message on the importance of Scripture, weekly communion, good coffee.
In many ways this man accomplished what I had hoped to do when I came here 26 years ago. He built a strong congregation that is learning, serving, and prospering. They even did something in communion that split a couple of churches in my generation by having a mixture of wine and grape juice. I guess these controversies tend to work themselves out.
I have long ago come to peace about the troubles I had when I moved west with two young church plants. Other than the possibility that I was never destined to start a church from scratch I would say that my efforts to reorganize stalled church plants was far riskier than coming and starting something new. It was the built in conflicts that already exited that did me in, plus, I freely admit, way too much effort to conciliate warring factions. If I had it to do again, I would have ushered a few trouble makers out the door. But I did not and now it is history.
The good news is that survived and grew and even found wonderful knowledge and freedom in the decades that followed. However, when I see a healthy young church functioning in unity of purpose, I feel a bit of betrayal and abandonment. Why not me, why was my path a path of division?
Then I pray to let it go, and to be thankful for the second half of my ministry, in mostly healthy situation, and even the further conflicts I realize are problems that plague the whole evangelical movement, both arminian and calvinist. There may be further answers and understandings that we may have missed, that may have been covered by centuries of error, and then I thank God that if I am failing and falling, I am actually falling upward.