From The Rev. Canon Dr. Anna Carmichael
If Jesus were to walk into your congregation, what would he say “Wow” about?
This was one of the questions we were asked to ponder at Project Resource this past week. Bp David, Rev. Suzy Ward, Rev. Nick Lorenzetti, Lori Toia, and Ron Sneddon and I were among several smaller dioceses hosted at this past week’s Episcopal Church Foundation/College for Bishops training on stewardship and annual giving.
So, as I do, I immediately posted the question to my Facebook page, and the responses I got varied from feeling loved, feeding with love, all are welcome, partnering with others, joy, commitment, and this is my favorite “Imagine! More is possible!
We are in a unique position, friends, to imagine the MORE that is possible! (Remember all that Jesus Movement/Revival stuff where Cn. Stephanie Spellers invited us to MORE!) As I listened to the stories around the meeting room at Project Resource, I was inspired by the creativity, the enthusiasm and the love that people have for their small, often struggling, congregations and dioceses.
They weren’t looking for quick fixes or even a one-size-fits-all solution to their financial concerns; rather, they were looking to be inspired and motivated to really talk about why we “do” church. Yes, they wanted to know how to keep the lights on, but not for the sake of the lights or the building, but because of the impact NOT having the lights on would mean for their ministry.
Since returning from Texas, I’ve been thinking about the “Wow” I’ve seen around the diocese, and here’s a few things that come to mind…and I know there’s a lot more:
–St Andrew’s Taft evening dinners for the community
–St John’s Stockton HUB ministry
–St Raphael’s Oakhurst supporting convention and clergy conference through liturgy support
–St Paul’s Visalia warming center
–St Paul’s Bakersfield yellow bag ministry
–St James Cathedral food pantry
Again, these are just a few of the many things going on in our diocese. And I truly believe that Jesus would say “Wow” about our compassion, our love, our eagerness to live into “MORE”.
And this brings us back to stewardship and annual giving, because without the “Wow” or the “MORE” or even just “Why do we do the things we do”…well, to be totally honest, then we aren’t “doing” church.
The “Wow,” the “MORE” and the “Why” is about answering the call to discipleship, the call to be… a follower and evangelist for the Jesus Movement. If we are gathering on Sundays only, and then closing up shop for the rest of the week, then we are missing an invitation to a fuller, more complete, life in Christ.
Resurrection living isn’t about “business as usual”…when Jesus came out of the tomb, he was transformed and went about transforming others. That is the unique position we’re in…we have been transformed and are now called to transform others.
What is the “Wow” of your worshiping community?