We're back from a three-week-family-roadtrip-vacay ... and it was fabulous. If you would've told me road trips were THAT great, I would never have believed you. The kids went above our expectations - our time together was unprecedented ... lots of conversation, visiting new places, a whole lot of laughing, a few hundred photos taken - and a few DVDs watched too *smile*.
And now that we're back, it's straight back into life - and it feels good. Spring cleaning is something I do every few months and with new treasures from our trip, it was motivating to sort through closets and drawers ... my house feels uncluttered and ready for spring. Even with all this rain.
So, out with the old and in with the new.
I don't particularly like change, except this kind. You know, when I'm certain that what I'm getting is better than what I had before ... so I swap it out. Wouldn't life be grand if that's what change always meant? Knowing what was coming, was so much better?
It's pretty safe to say, that those who fear change probably fear the "unknown" - in the same way those who LOVE change, LOVE the "unknown". I am generally of the former feeling.
I've been a part of only two churches in my lifetime. My first church was Glad Tidings Tabernacle (now GTChurch) in Vancouver, BC. A legendary church - rich in history and God-moments, and its fair-share of hardships as well. Many of my life-long friendships are still from that church, and much of my deep-rooted commitment of faith and worship come from growing up there.
When I was nine, our family moved - and changed churches as well. Christian Life Assembly has been my church ever since. CLA is more "home" than any place I've ever lived ... mainly because it's been "home" the longest, I guess. I have made life-long friends there. I have had many opportunities in music and worship there. I had my first kiss on the stairs in the back *laughing* ... I love everything about that place.
Being in the same church for so long has allowed me to see many things. Over the years, many people have stayed, but many have moved on - for whatever reason. I have seen incredible times, and incredibly difficult times. And when I look out on the congregation this Sunday morning - it's going to be very, very, very difficult indeed.
Change is ahead, with our Senior Pastor of 25+ years, Pastor Brent (PB) moving on to a new role in ministry. That's a long time - and he's basically been the only Pastor I've known. I've taught three-of-his-four-kids piano, my hubby was in his eldest son's wedding party ... I know this family well. I love this family.
Thursday night's rehearsal of Sunday's worship - it had me on the verge of tears. PB is ridiculously talented, his vision for gospel and all the roots of charismatic worship that is imbedded in our congregation ... his heart for worship, for our community - which is why his next venture is a perfect fit for him as he goes into evangelism. As he leads worship at his final CLA service, I will be one of many on his team ...
But my heart will be broken on Sunday.
And yet ...
Change is not bad - the unknown is scary, but it's not bad.
What will happen? Who will become our new pastor? What will their vision be? Who will stay? Who will go?
I don't know.
But - I do know this: I love my church. I love the people of my church - and those faces have changed a whole lot in the last 20 years. But I love them. I love the new people, and the ones who have been there the entire time.
I love the mantel that is on our church - one of worship and outreach.
I love that God is with us.
Some people think I'm ignorant - they've said it to my face *smile*, they've boldly written it to me in FB messages ... that I'm unable to see anything past CLA, that I'm a poor-soul who will never grow-up if I stay where I am. I'm stagnant. I'm a follower. I'm pathetic.
Oh, I've heard it all *smile* ... but naw. I don't feel that way at all.
The truth is, I simply have a shepherd's heart for my church - for the congregation, for it's future and all that it has the potential of doing in our community and around the world. Good things ... that's not ignorant. It's wonderful. I want our church to grow, to learn ... to have community, to be as Christ was, to experience God in real ways. I want to see miracles, to have those I know - to have their lives radically changed. I want our church to be a pillar in the community, a lighthouse for those who are on their last legs. I want it to be a safe place for my children to grow in friendships and in their faith.
I'm leading worship next Sunday, on April 6th - it'll be the first Sunday we will not have PB there. And if I could hope for anything, it would be that those who have gathered will be up for the challenge that lies ahead. That we would not fold our arms and say, "no - this is not the way we do things" ... that we would grow, and cheer on our Board as they make really difficult decisions. That we would worship, that we would pray ... not selfishly for ourselves - because our faith is already planted within us. But that our vision would grow for our community, for the lost and broken - both outside of our doors and within them. That we wouldn't forget our mandate - that this transition wouldn't focus us inwardly - remembering that our entire call is outwards. That our homes would open up to each other, that we would invite the "new" in and get ourselves involved in parts of the church that our hearts are stirred for.
I am not worried about the future, I am excited for it - and it may look super different. Maybe I'll never lead worship there again - but that's ok. My faith isn't based on WHAT I do, or who's the leader, it's in WHO I know my Saviour to be.
So, change is not bad ... but it is inevitable. Here's to doing it the best way we know how: surrendered completely to the Lord.
Have a great one *smile*.