I’d like to invite you to join me in a project that I’ve embarked on over the past few weeks. I’ll be very clear about this invitation: I would genuinely love for you to reach out to me. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I end each of these notes with a line something like, “I’d love to hear your thoughts…” Yes, I actually mean it. I’m hopeful that you’ll join me in this.
Westminster is looking out at a brand-new landscape these days. Calendars are filling back up. The halls are a little bit louder. We’ve moved back to three worship services each week. Programs and groups of all kinds are meeting again in new ways. If you’re excited and thankful to see things moving in this direction, you’re surely not alone. That said, perhaps we ought to take a pause at this moment. It would be easy to fill the void of space that the pandemic created in our communal calendar, but let’s ask a very important question.
Where are we going?
The youth ministry is fleshing out these ideas, too. I’ve worked hard to avoid the phrase “back to normal,” so instead I’ve chosen the phrase “moving toward a full ministry calendar.” The last time the youth ministry had a full ministry calendar, we lived in a very different landscape. As attractive and easy as it may be to autofill old answers to new questions, it simply wouldn’t work. We need to identify the new needs that have arisen, and we need to take stock of our current resources that can meet those needs. We need to be intentional about the direction that we’re moving.
It ought to be of no surprise that I think there’s some wisdom in scripture for us here. In Matthew 9 Jesus says, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” In other words, we can’t put new thoughts, ideas, needs, and directions into old systems. Some things will need to change. And if they don’t? Get your mop ready.
I don’t want you to misinterpret any of what I’ve said here. This is a message of hope. I’ve always had a bit of a pioneering spirit, and if you’re anything like me you’ll look at this new landscape in front of us with a twinkle in your eye and a spark in your heart. Do we have some work to do? Certainly. Can God use us to build something beautiful? Absolutely. First, we need to know where we’re going.
Here’s the invitation: Open yourself up in prayer. It is critically important that we don’t get our own ambitions confused for God’s direction. Ask that God would illuminate the needs of this particular community as well as the ways in which you may be able to help. We all have a role in this, so don’t discount your own gifts and abilities. Remember that lots of times God calls people forward into a huge expanse of unknown – you may not walk away from this time with anything concrete!
Finally, you guessed it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Reach out and let me know what God is placing onto your heart for this community. I’d love to hear how you may be called to pioneer something new and beautiful. Let’s talk soon.
– Ed Sutter