I was recently chastised in the nicest possible way for not having updated my blog in, well, let's just say a very long time. It's not that I have not been writing, but I have not been typing out what I've written. But, I wanted to write tonight because we have just finished Vacation Bible School...in church circles, that is known as "VBS." Perhaps finishing VBS does not sound exciting, but this year, we partnered with two other churches, and the partnership was the exciting part to me.
It is no secret that most mainline churches are experiencing a decline in active participation and membership. So, churches can be very protective of their congregations and unwilling to work together for fear that congregants might "defect" to another place. Perhaps they will like the other church building better. Perhaps they will like the other minister better. Perhaps they will like the programming better or the music better or the classes better. That leads to fear of ministering together.
When people are fearful, they don't reach out, But, as the movie, "Amazing Grace" taught us in the adult class of VBS, "when people's fears go away, their compassion comes back." VBS is a labor intensive effort, but when more than one congregation comes together, we have ample teachers and volunteers. When congregations work together in ministry like VBS, we realize that we are not in competition. That lights a fire. We realize we are not alone in trying to meet the many ministry needs that are before us. That sparks interest in working together. We each have strengths that partner well with the other's weaknesses. And, we each have weaknesses that partner well with the other's strengths.
I guess I dare to dream of a day when that's the norm for ministry....congregations offering their gifts and resources for the good of the Body. Perhaps we can lead the way in Johnston County...I am ready to get creative in committing to more than just a ministerial association, but to the universal church where we are all one in Christ.