The conversation was deep and heartfelt. We entered it without any preconceptions as a group of what the outcome would be. But this post is less about what we did, than it is about a thought that occurred to me toward the end of the evening and has continued to stay with me since then. And that thought is, what would it be like for every worshiping group to set aside time to ask “Should we be or not be?” What would it be like to face, as a people of faith, to come together and seek God’s guidance about whether to continue meeting or not. Continue programs or not. Keep the building or not?
By that I don’t mean the governing council meeting and wrestling with this so as to fill out a report to the denominational office. Or to fulfill some requirement in a book of discipline. But rather to engage the congregation as a whole in a sort of holy wrestling with purpose and mission. And not at a set time of year (“Oh, it’s time for that meeting again!”), but rather because the members and attenders are spiritually sensitive folks and understand that following God’s direction is the most important work they can do – more important than how many people show up for worship, what programs are offered, are the financial needs being met, etc.
I am certain there are some worship groups who do this kind of discernment, but by and large most congregations seem to meander on their busy way. They’re so busy doing that which folks felt God had called them to years or generations ago that they rarely stop and ask, “What’s God want us to be doing – as a whole – now?” They may ask about adding this program or dropping that service – but what about the larger question – “Does God continue to call us to be together as a community of faith – or is it time for …?” For what can only be discerned as we prayerfully listen to the One who calls, and guides, and leads us to the places we need – not want – to be.