How silly of them, we think, to insist that the new Christian Church use the old rules of physically marking males who belong to the congregation. They’re mistaking the Way of Moses for the Way of Jesus.
But with some reflection, we see how much we resemble our spiritual ancestors. Our practices differ, but we struggle with knowing when traditions uphold faith and when they limit it. When does traditionalism stifle God’s Spirit? It’s a constant challenge to release whatever is no longer relevant to create space for God to make all things new.
I work with congregations who want their journey through “Coronavirus land” to ultimately help them embrace God’s new mission for the church. Congregations that seek this new life may find the following activity helpful to their transformation process:
Imagine three sorting buckets sitting before your congregation. The first is labeled “Continue.” It contains the new ministries, practices, and adaptive expressions of church that emerged during this crisis time. You may want to keep and integrate these into your ongoing church life. The second bucket is labeled “Stop.” It holds the ministries and practices that ceased during the pandemic. Most activities have a lifespan. We’ve grown attached to them, but some things that stopped during the pandemic don’t need to restart. The third bucket says “Explore.” It holds visions and insights about what the church might be or do in the future. Keep the congregation’s hopes and dreams here.
Sorting helps us move towards God’s transformation. The early Church discerns what to release and what to hold as they follow God’s Spirit. May their story give us courage to discern and follow as well.
Try the activity described above as you consider your personal spiritual journey. Share your outcomes with a trusted spiritual companion.
God, may we embrace this opportunity to sort out our experiences, learn from them, and lean into the Way of Jesus. Amen.