How many times have you logged on to social media and encountered article after article about why the “church” is dying? How many top 10 lists have you read about why people are leaving your church? I was recently reading one of these articles and I found myself thinking about my own church – Community of Christ. I began to reflect on conversations I have had with many who are asking the same questions about the state of the church and share the impulse to “fix” what must be broken. The reality to these problems is not the need to fix something that is broken; the deeper truth is that we are to be a people of love.
What would it look like if we changed our mentality from strategic thinkers solving a problem to people who approach every new situation with an attitude of deep, authentic love? What would it feel like to walk into church on Sunday not with a critical gaze of all that needs correcting, but instead to see the people who have gathered and to think, I love them, as the first thought to enter your mind?
I’m not advocating that we let issues go and don’t deal with the need to make course corrections, but I am advocating that we lay down our spirit of scarcity and pick up and hold a spirit of abundance. The church is not dying, but our passion and attentiveness may be waning. God’s enduring Spirit has not left us behind or alone, but our willingness to be attentive to the movements of God may be stifled. When we live in a place of scarcity all seems to be lost, but when we move to a place of noticing God all around us and in all things something is transformed (abundance).
I am reminded of the scripture in Luke 5 where Jesus encourages his disciples to cast their nets into the deep. The disciples are blown away by this. They have been fishing all night long and have caught nothing. Then, because of an awareness of invitation, they cast their nets into the deep and catch so much that they almost sink their boat! Is this not how it works with life in the Spirit?
We have been inviting for years in the shallow water and Jesus has been shouting to us, “Try going deeper!” And our response is, “But Jesus…. That’s so much work…. And we’ve been working for so long… And we are tired!” The good news is this: God invites us to the deep, which is that place just beyond the point where we have exhausted our own effort. The abundance of a deep life with God is not something we make on our own. It is something we discover! What might happen if we chose the radical act of living with no agenda but to courageously love our neighbors and explore the deep of each other’s lives?
For the next three months I will be posting blogs on the Sierra Pacific USA Mission Center website (www.cofhcirst-spmc.org) to explore this spiritual shift. I want to share stories and experiences that illuminate what is possible when we see the abundance of God’s presence in our lives. I want to share moments that create transformation when we get out of our rutted routines and into the lives of those in our communities. This series will lead us to Advent, where we will begin to share stories of new life being born in our midst.
My Sisters and Brothers, let’s begin the work of pulling in the nets so that we can cast them out again, but not back into the shallow waters of strategy and agenda. Let’s release our nets into the deep waters of love, relationship, peace, and abundance.