Written by Julie Long, Interim Director of Staff and Congregational Life
Each of us brings our own individual stories of why FBCX is “my” church. Our stories are as unique as we are and come out of different seasons in our church’s life over the span of several decades. But I’ve noticed that as different as our stories may be, some common themes emerge— themes of being made to feel welcome by those who invited us or who we encountered here, of feeling at home among people with whom we can authentically be ourselves, of feeling connected to the Spirit of God through experiences of worship that speak to the depths of our souls, of growing in our faith through service and learning. These common experiences come out of the core values that we share— the things that make this OUR church.
Claiming this place and this people as OUR church feels good. Together we find a community where we can celebrate our life’s joys and in be supported in life’s hardships. We grow together as we learn from the different perspectives and experiences that others bring. We pool our resources and energies to do more collectively than we can as individuals so that our impact upon our community is more expansive. Here, in OUR church, we can find family.
But like in every family, living together can be hard. We all have that person in our families whom we dread sitting next to at the Thanksgiving table, or who knows exactly how to push all of our buttons. Even those family members whom we deeply love can irritate us or hurt us. These things happen in our church family, too. Being church together means that somehow we have to learn to live with those in our faith community who hold different political or theological views, who see things or act in ways we don’t understand or agree with, who have hurt our feelings or made us mad, who have betrayed our trust.
How can this be OUR church both for us and for those people? As Chuck talked about in his recent sermon, being “in the same mind” is nearly impossible. But even when we can’t be in the same mind, we can strive to be “in the same love.” Being church together requires holding one another with a mutual love that transcends our differences and disagreements, that binds us together as the family of God. It is really hard work. If FBCX is OUR church, we share our lives together, and we also share responsibility for the life of this congregation we love. For this to be OUR church, each one of us must invest ourselves in the well-being of this congregation in the ways that we are able, recognizing that that looks differently for different people in different seasons of life.
In this season of staff transition, we are learning together (again) that the church is not and can never be dependent on paid staff to do the work of the church. The Baptist way affirms the role of every member, every voice, every body in being church together. This season, more than
ever, we need you. We need hard-working, resourceful folks to roll up their sleeves and pull weeds and make building repairs. We need thoughtful, loving people to teach children and chaperone youth retreats. We need smart, faithful people to guide us in important decisions about our buildings and our budget. We need kind-hearted people who will make calls or send cards to stay in touch with members who cannot attend or who have faded away. We need you to take ownership of this church, volunteering to help when you see a need and not assuming that someone else is going to do it. We need every single one of us to make financial gifts to enable us to do good things in our community and to support the upkeep of this beloved institution that makes this good work possible.
This church is so important to each one of us, so much so that we have chosen to claim it as MY church. Now that all of us have come together here, it is OUR church. I invite you to prayerfully reflect on these things:
- Consider what role you play within the larger ministry of this church. What particular gift do you have to offer?
- Pray about how you might give of your time and resources to support the work of this church in a new way during this season of transition.
- Dream about what you imagine OUR church to do and be in the next chapter of our life together. Talk to another church member about your hopes.
I’m proud that this is MY church, and I’m grateful to work alongside so many of you who know that this is OUR church together.