Friday, September 26, 2014

Pack the House #11: An Embarrassment of Riches

It is a struggle sometimes to keep the lights on.  This winter I will spend far more time working from home and on the street than I will in my church because we cannot afford to heat my office.  We operate on a tattered and worn shoestring budget.  Only half of my salary is paid by the church, the rest comes from the District, while my insurance and retirement (I don't intend to ever retire) are provided by another church.  I worry about what happens in less than two years when District funding runs out for this appointment.  Our church is growing exponentially with those that WE ALL CLAIM to have a heart for, but they are not the type that can "support" a church.

By all of the metrics of the world, we are a losing proposition.  This is not a place or a work that any sane pastor would desire; it is hard, the hours are long, it is at times dangerous, it is not glamorous, and it is not the type of place that is a considered "a good career move."  This place will break your heart, it sticks with you, and it seems to make your phone ring incessantly at the most inopportune times.  Days off are moving targets and tend to be short bursts of quiet...and I honestly could not happier, more fulfilled, or more content.

We get to love people and children who have forgotten or have never known what it means to be loved.  We get to see firsthand the power of that love and the power of God to transform lives; it happens right before your eyes.  We are free to live out our faith in authentic, transformative ways that are organic and natural; the Gospel comes to life because it is who we are.  How many churches get to say that!?!?  It is amazing what God will do when you simply throw open your doors and you receive whoever comes.

We don't have programs or fancy facilities to offer.  We simply have God to offer and it is working; imagine that.  We never have to wonder what to do next; we simply show up.  As a church, as a Christ follower, I can think of nothing greater or more comforting.  We are indeed the most fortunate church I know; swimming in an embarrassment of riches.

Being a former Marine, there is a quote by Ronald Reagan that I absolutely love...

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem."

I have taken it to phrasing it a different way at Heathen Church and Grace...

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, at Grace, we don't have that problem."

We aren't necessarily looking for new members, we aren't interested in "sheep stealing"; what we are desperately trying to do is to foster ministry partners and to provide churches and individuals the opportunity to live out their faith; to share in our riches.  Come and see.

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