Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!

Are you lost?
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?

Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!

quarta-feira, janeiro 10, 2007

Church Family Life Changes

Phil Steller


I have expressed several times that the theme of Esotropiart is that life is a process. There's a whole lot to life, it's full of changes: ups and downs. It's not all pretty, no matter what your background or perspective is. I am a very imperfect follower of Christ; my life and character are full of gaping holes. Being a Christian will not make life easier, nor will it spare a person from sorrow, trials or stress. My goal is not to be considered religious, but rather to have it communicated that my life is a pursuit of a relationship with Jesus. I know that most of the time I fail miserably even at that, but is what I desire. That is truly what Christianity is all about and why it differs so starkly with all other "religions" or "faiths" out there. It might sound trite and repetitious to some, but Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Christianity without the relationship aspect (more than an aspect - it's all or nothing) is surely just another stack of rules, sayings and traditions to throw on the endless heap... and I would agree with those who have encountered this sort and say it has nothing to "offer", so to speak.

While I'm not that consistent in supporting my theme, I try to write from time to time about bits of my life that I feel might reveal a bit of the journey that I am going through. Right now my church is experiencing a very important "crossroads" in our existence as a body, a family. Our beloved Pastor and Friend of 20 years announced his resignation some weeks ago, and his last Sunday was December 31st. Our congregation is also considering the mostly unprecedented gifting of our building to another church as well, so there is a lot on our plate (but that topic is another entry or seventeen by itself).

Though the resignation came as a surprise to most (even to Pastor himself in a way), somehow I sensed something was going to change. I certainly didn't expect the timing though. Of all the pastors I have known personally or distantly, I respect few as I do Pastor Jack. During the years I have spent at this church I have come to respect him more and have dearly treasured our open friendship (though sadly underdeveloped to its full potential). I have briefly connected on a personal level with a couple pastors in my past, but usually pastors are busy with organization and leadership issues and don't have time to develop meaning relationships with common folk, especially youngins like myself. I will cherish our talks and... just hanging out. I'll never forget the Brazil trip(s), and dozens of other special occasions where Jack was there.

I like the smaller congregation atmosphere where it seems people are more approchable and accessible. An authentic and real family bond is created, and the relationships - if they don't last a lifetime - will certainly have effects that last a lifetime. The loving, family atmosphere is most definitely our church's strength in this age. Jack had a big part in developing and growing that legacy, and I trust it will continue.

To put it simply, I will massively miss the fellow. I will miss the vision that he perhaps only began to instill in our hearts. I am thankful for his tutelage and kindness and the astonishing example he set. He is a master at dealing with a ridiculous number of situations and personalities. I hope the best for him and his wife wherever they go.

So now our task as a church body becomes trusting in the Lord more and more, as we have NO IDEA where the road ahead will take us, both as a family and as individuals. This evening my wife and I attended kinship group (our church's small groups) for the first time in quite a while. It was their first meeting after Pastor left, and we talked a little about how we will continue, where we will meet, what we will talk about, etc. It feels so weird not having Jack there. We are all still family, and it is the tie that binds us, yet I loved so much what Jack brought with him - his wisdom, his understanding and compassion. It was such a high privilege to go on Sunday nights and glimpse into Pastor's heart, his relationship with Jesus and his desire for growth in all of us. He will be sorely missed.

Now is our chance to step up in faith. It is exciting and scary at the same time to think of being involved in such a place and time as this. I really don't know what the outcome will be or what changes we'll experience along the way. It's a new chapter in the book of Evangel Baptist Church. My hope is that God will be the ultimate Author of our future, for it will all come to rot under our care and efforts alone.

Originally published by the author on his own website: Esotropiart