So I’ve unchecked the automatic post-to-facebook… in fact, only a few people will likely read this. Not about running this time though! I just want to relieve my mind of certain thoughts, around our church.
After all, the Proposal was handed around to everyone, I’m just assuming that most people would prefer the whole thing not to be too… public.
The Transformation Action Team is made up of several reliable, godly, intelligent people–some of the very best from our church, people I would totally trust to have strong faith and be sincere in their praying about it. They spent long hours, trying to figure out the things we should do, as a church in transition. Meanwhile, many others were praying for them. Which is why I was frustrated at first, that we didn’t just accept their proposal, trusting that this is, indeed, what God wants us to do.
But I’m beginning to realize that some people just need a little time to get used to such a “drastic” idea. You see, a lot of people, including they themselves, thought that the TA Team was going to come up with a long list of things we could/should do. But the final proposal was (within a long explanation) simply two things. In fact, some are focusing on just one thing, but I believe the second part is crucial to the first one.
The first part is basically: sell the building to our condominium partner (a Chinese church, presently), and rent back a smaller part for our use. This would solve our huge financial woes, and free us to do better ministry; AND allow for the huge growth presently going on for that Chinese church. (Allowing us “to better allocate… resources and efforts for greater missional impact… [having] even larger Kingdom implications in providing [the Chinese church] with the space they need…” from the Proposal.)
It’s funny how several people were expecting this sort of thing, and others were totally “blown away” by it. In my thinking for the last little while, this idea envisions (like it does presently for others) our church quickly diminishing until it’s finally non-existent. BUT, here’s where the second part of the proposal comes in:
“At the leadership level, deliberately explore options with [the Chinese church] in regards to closer, intentional collaboration of our various congregations such that a growing understanding and capacity for fulfilling our God-given callings might be mutually fulfilled in the most Christ-honouring way possible.”
You see, on one side we have our church with its “waspish” traditions, and on the other a uni-cultural–Chinese–church with one of their congregations being an English one. And this is another important point: they do want to change, and have already talked about changing their name to take out the “Chinese”! Of course, all these things will take time, but we need to get on with the first step: some people may leave as we begin, but if we don’t do something concrete, more families will most certainly leave. There’s a growing unrest that we are constantly having more meetings to “talk”, and not really doing anything.
As it says in the proposal, “…we are responsible for taking the immediate concrete step that God has placed before us,”… Yes, it’s a drastic thing, but I don’t see that we have any choice, looking at our budget deficit get larger and larger. The TA Team of course, isn’t promising that we will definitely survive as a congregation of the Chinese church, but just look at some more important quotes from their proposal:
“As the history of God’s people has shown, self-preservation is not compatible with faithful ministry and ultimately leads to apostasy.”
“…as people who live by the cross and resurrection of Christ, we recognize that death is not the last word and that this type of ‘death’ may very well become the occasion for God’s raising of [our church] to a new and creative future full of possibilities which at this point we can’t even imagine.” (emphasis mine)
It’s not an accident, in my opinion, that we are currently studying at this Perspectives (a missions study) course, about multiculturalism. We thought our church was “multicultural”, but not really–we just have a few people from other cultures coming to our very “Western” church. So that’s the vision that I’ve “caught”, and am truly excited about (that we’ll reach eventually, as both sides morph together): a truly multicultural congregation, worshiping together. Yes!
But I do realize that some people need just a bit of time to adjust their thinking before taking this first “concrete step”–just a bit… I hope (and pray)!
OK, one last time for this verse (since Christmas is coming!!)
“But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in the holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us relief from slavery.” (Ezra 9:8)