The Weather Report JUNE 2018

All in attendance at the May meeting of the deacons participated in an opening exercise. Deacons, active and honorary, and staff were invited to describe an event in the life of the church in the past year that was most nurturing for them. The fifteen individuals present participated eagerly. The deacon chair and I had allotted 10 minutes for this exercise. 
For twenty minutes I listened attentively. Individual after individual shared his or her story. There were few generalities; people spoke of specific events and experiences. Emotion and thoughtfulness were evident. The exercise aided us in locating similar internal experiences of God’s love at work. Voicing them in the here and now permitted connection.
One deacon described the influence going to Haiti this past January continues to have on her spiritual life. Another forty year veteran of this congregation spoke of the deep satisfaction he receives as a leader in our youth ministry. A grandfather expressed an abiding appreciation for his grandchildren’s experience on Pentecost in worship. I heard many expressions of a church that is healthy.     
Reviewing my notes later, I read with an eye for signposts pointing to what our church values. Some refer to this as a church’s DNA code. In short, what are the critical, essential elements that comprise our corporate reality? One might say that the group identified some of what is indispensible to our church. If asked, it is my opinion that those present at the meeting would deem these values worthy of preserving.
  One treasured value is summed up with the word “connectivity.” Helping people stay connected through life and church transitions is one source of the attraction to Immanuel Baptist Church for many. Equally conspicuous to me was the desire to move from the inside out. Participating in the external mission of the church was rewarding. One of the brightest lights shining in our shared reflections had our children as its source. Nurturing young Christians is transforming for all ages.
Listening to the others around the table, I viewed Immanuel Baptist Church as others see and experience her. I assume others had a similar experience to mine. I viewed the grace of God in our midst working through steadfast faithfulness. The fruit of this work being the love “that binds everything together in perfect harmony,” to borrow the words of Paul.1  In short, we matter to each other and to the community. The family God is making of us is strong.
Here is what I took away from the exercise. There are some things about our Spiritual Community that must never change. Identifying those core values allows for clarity of purpose. Seeing things clearly emboldens us to identify the elements in our church life that are not essential. What might Immanuel Baptist Church stop doing so we can free up energy for something new? Are there non-essentials that can be set aside, despite the effectiveness of these forms of ministry in the past?
  —Steven
 
1Colossians 3.14