People of God called All Saints,
Last month, the Council and New Vision Team shared the plan they collaborated on. A plan that reflects their excitement and commitment to focus in 2013 and 2014 on six key ministry areas:
Prayer and Scripture
Evangelism and welcoming
Ministry with young people
In-reach Listening Campaign
In April, when Sara, Susannah, and I traveled to my home-state of Pennsylvania, we wanted to spend time with a whole bunch of friends and family. That meant our short week was planned almost down to the hour.
Arrive in PA on Tues. Have dinner with Dad and aunts and uncles. Wed: morning bike ride with Rachelle, then lunch. Dinner with Mom. And so on…
Then, as soon as we arrived, a handful of other people and events we had not planned for started squeezing into the schedule.
One night, we had just finished dinner with friends and were driving 20 min for dessert with other friends. And right then, a little burst of frustration shot through my body. I started crabbing to myself: “This is a vacation! This is supposed to be relaxing! Why are we doing this to ourselves?!”
I stewed on that while Sara and Susannah cat-napped in the car. Then, another little burst went through me—an “Oh yeah!” firework. “Oh yeah, I remember why…
We’re doing this because we care about these people. They’ve been so important to us over the years. And when we spend time together, we always learn something new about them and about ourselves too.
Then we had some yummy ice cream and left tired but immensely grateful.
I don’t think it really matters what arena of life we’re in. It’s inevitable that in a burst of frustration, disappointment, hurt-feelings, or resentment we will wonder, “Why the heck am I doing this to myself?” It’s a decision-point: carry on or change direction? How to decide?
I don’t always trust my emotions. So I try to make decisions based on principle. What’s my goal here? What really matters to me? Who has God created me to be? Why did God put me on this earth?
I can’t foresee every challenge, but I find I am truer myself, to others, and to God when I give this some advance thought. I actually call this thought “prayer,” or a kind of prayer called, “discernment.”
Even though I am busy, I spend time in biblical, prayerful discernment because it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. When the going gets tough, I want to get and keep going on the important stuff.
That’s why I call our Benchmarks, All Saints’ “Igniting and Transforming” Plan. So I don’t forget why we are doing all these crazy, tiring, frustrating, impossible things.
God’s purpose for All Saints is: igniting passion for Jesus, and boldly transforming our neighborhoods with love and hope.
Oh yeah, that’s why…
Every week in worship, you’ll hear this purpose two, three, even four times. Remembering what matters most makes such a difference!
When we change direction: why? Oh yeah, igniting and transforming. When we stay the course: why? That’s right, igniting and transforming. When we do this and not that: why? Igniting and transforming.
Staying focused on All Saints’ purpose and core values will make some decisions easier and some harder. It won’t eliminate conflict (what will?) but it will help us make conflict creative instead of destructive. It will free this diverse congregation to work as a team.
Already, clarity about our common purpose and values helped us do these things. Take, for example, the Benchmarks (a.k.a. the Igniting and Transforming Plan). Imagine how hard it would’ve been for the Council and New Vision Team to create it before getting clear about All Saints’ purpose!
Another example comes from the Proclamation Ministry Team. Liz told me how disappointed they were to decide not to do VBS this year. But at the same time, they took heart, knowing they were still working toward the bigger goal, if only by another path.
The clearer we are, the better. The “Igniting and Transforming” Plan expresses even more clearly All Saints’ purpose and core values. Thanks be to God for leaders who spend time in biblical, prayerful discernment!
If we’ve come this far, how much farther could we go? What do you think would happen if every person at All Saints committed the purpose statement to memory? What if we could call it to mind at any moment? Would this make All Saints more or less likely to do the purpose and keep doing it?
What could happen as each of us prayed the purpose daily—once daily, twice, three times!—for ourselves and our families, for All Saints, for the Quad Cities and world? What might God do in us and our neighbors then?
I’m going to do more than imagine. I’m going to try it and see, because you and All Saints’ and God purposes mean a great deal to me.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith