I’m in St. Petersburg, FL attending a “Transforming Congregations” conference. The material is familiar to me since this is the second time I’m leading a church through transformation. Certain learnings are reinforced: Churches need to continually transform so they don’t calcify into institutions. Leadership is important. We need to emphasize sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Last night we worshipped on a deck overlooking the gulf. The preacher used the passage from Mark about denying yourself to follow Christ, without offering any exegetical words about that passage. He exhorted us to write down the things that keep us from following Jesus, and to “offer them up.” He made very few suggestions about what kinds of thing he meant, other than repeatedly mentioning family members– since they often get in our way.
Excuse me. I’m not about to “offer up” either of my children, although certainly they factor into how/when/where I follow the call. I’ve relocated my family across the country three times chasing calls, and I’m not so sure that was wise, or necessary.
In fact, I’m not so sure it’s possible to separate ego needs from the call of Christ, certainly not in a casual moment with an empty slip of paper waiting to be scrawled upon, so one can bring it to the front along with others, following directions.
One of my transformations: I no longer do something simply because it’s expected of me.
I don’t know how others perceived the preacher’s message, but it was not a word I needed to hear. Fortunately, the waves and the seabirds offered a different message, and this morning I took the time to listen.