Electric avenue

Where does the energy in a church come from?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering here in my tenth month as Nativity’s interim minister. (Time flies!) Because churches have distinct personalities, and one of the axes of understanding them is the energy level of the complex systems that make up any congregation.

What I’ve found here is a largely high-energy assembly of God’s faithful people. You may not recognize this about yourselves. Maybe it’s like trying to explain water to a fish – it’s just the milieu in which we work and worship. But it’s so. There’s a spirit here that is not found in many other churches.

I know that Pastor Ruth worked really hard and was involved in a lot of aspects of church life. I bet some people were concerned that when she retired, the energy she brought to all she did would just disappear. And of course folks are still feeling the loss of your longtime pastor. But church life didn’t grind to a half because your interim pastor is more hands-off and can afford to invest less time in the enterprise called Church of the Nativity.

I’ve seen committed volunteers and staff pick up much of what Ruth did. But I’ve also come to recognize that the vitality of Nativity rests not in its pastor but in the congregation itself. This is a place where people find ready acceptance of their gifts and encouragement to exercise them fully. And really, that’s the ideal – that at church we practice building the Kingdom of God with every cookie baked, every liturgy led, every committee meeting shepherded through.

We don’t know how your next called pastor will function, whether he or she will be organized or devil-may-care, a strong voice or go-with-the-flow. But the resilience I see throughout the congregation makes those pastoral attributes almost irrelevant to Nativity’s good health and long-term ministry. It’s a rare church where the energy flows as it does here. A gift of God to celebrate in the new year!

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