When we- the church was a child we grew up with abundance and we had a great childhood. There was an abundance of almost everything and it was good. There was an abundance of food, abundance of resources, abundance of jobs, and abundance of money. There was also an abundance of grace, love, God, and stewardship. When we were children, we learned that all we needed to do was to follow the rituals we were taught, and abundance in all forms would then follow as it did in the past. There would indeed be some tough times as there always are, but in the end things would always be okay. As we grew, our parents handed down their teachings and their possessions. When we looked over what they gave us and what they grew and created, it looked good, and it was good. We couldn’t wait to do the same. We couldn’t wait to get out into the world to make things “ours and God’s” and create something of our own for ourselves and for our kids and our kids’ kids.
When we grew older, we did as our parents and grandparents did, but something was different. In one sense it still felt the same. We kept all the same rituals that we’d been taught but we had less. We looked at our brothers and sisters, and they, too, had less. After some time, a few brothers and sisters even started to die off from famine and drought. At first, when a few of them started to die, we thought these times were tough, but they would pass. We’d had tough times before and things always got better, but this time our tough times didn’t get better.
After a while we started to look at our world and our surroundings and we noticed that things weren’t the same as they were when our parents and grandparents were around. This place is something that we were never taught about growing up. There is no abundance of food, resources, jobs, and money. However, there is still grace, love, God, and stewardship. It just isn’t surrounded with abundance as it was when we were children. There is still a need to be in mission as there was with our parents and grandparents, maybe even more now, but if what we have been taught to do for centuries is no longer getting results, what are we to do? If church isn’t working the same as it has for generations, why? Can we even ask this question? We were never taught this; we were never taught that church as we know it wouldn’t work the same as it had for hundreds of years.
So, what are we to do and how can we still be in mission and still be a church? Are we to throw in the towel and go our separate ways because we don’t know? Are we to stay the course and live an unsustainable life by using up our resources until a certain end? Are we to rethink everything? Explore, use trial and error, make mistakes, take risks and learn along the way to create a new path and a new future with the resources that have been provided to us from generations ago for generations to come?
The scary thing is that no one knows. If one of us had a dream from God last night telling us what to do - like what has happened so many times in the bible - then we wouldn’t be in a predicament and we could walk in faith knowing what God has in store for us. It is not all scary, though, not all doom and gloom. They say in times of crisis there is always an opportunity. We have an opportunity now and that is awesome! The great and amazing part is that we are the new leaders, the new teachers, the new generation looking to find out where the new abundance lies. Can we utilize and leverage the abundance from generations ago to rethink stewardship, to rethink discipleship, to rethink church?
I think we can. We have the resources; we have the talent. Every time we are together, I am always awestruck with each person’s individual strengths and pure love for Christ, and their truly good souls. I think one of the most important attributes that we have is the willingness and drive to ask the tough questions and think in ways others may not necessarily think. We have the willingness to think of and be “church” in ways others don’t view it. We can be the strong and prosperous church that the world needs today. What does that look like, I don’t know? I don’t think it looks quite like what our ancestors have taught us, but I want to know. I want to know with you, and I want to know with Christ. By thinking outside the box, keeping Christ with us and being wise and intentional in our decision making, we will be the new teachers for generations to come, and it will be good.