Interim Notes September 2023
(Occasional “Food for Thought” in Less than 350 Words)
Elsewhere in this newsletter is a paragraph about the extension of my interim ministry in your midst. Together, we will continue our journey of renewal and preparation!
Speaking of renewal, Rev. Jim Kidd was an acquaintance of mine when I served churches in Connecticut. Jim was the Senior Minister at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. He wrote a book about the renewal of churches through a ministry of preaching. I went to visit with him in his office about the subject, and this is what I remember him saying:
Preaching can be a very compelling impetus for church growth. However, it relies on the laity as much as it does the preacher. The preacher needs for congregation members to share invitations with neighbors and friends saying that their church has the best preacher in the region. Now the preacher may not actually be the best preacher in the region, but if people keep talking up the preacher, and if they keep inviting people to visit the congregation that preacher may very well grow into being the best preacher in the region.
Rev. Kidd wrote his books and articles in the 1990’s. I don’t know if there is much credence in his strategy thirty years later. What I do like about it, however, is that he fosters a “we’re all in this together” mindset. The preacher and the people need to work together to build up one another. The beauty of an interim time is that we get to practice some new approaches to building up the Body of Christ.
How can Congregational Church of Laconia members share their enthusiasm about some aspect of this church with others – and then grow into being that church? How can we be the best we can be in worship, music, outreach, education, and/or walking humbly with our God? What aspect of this church is so important to you that you would invite family members, friends or even co-workers to come and experience it?
Interim Notes August 2023
(Occasional “Food for Thought” in Less than 350 Words)In early July, Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber was one of the keynote speakers atthe UCC’s General Synod. Rev. Bolz-Weber is best known for her candor
and irreverence regarding the life of the local church. In her book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, she shares a story about
new member orientation. She is always the last one to share words of welcome to the group. This is how she reflects on that opportunity:
“This community will disappoint them. It’s a matter of when, not if. We will let them down or I’ll say something stupid and hurt their feelings. I then invite them on this side of their inevitable disappointment to decide if they’ll stick around after it happens. If they choose to leave when we don’t meet
their expectations, they won’t get to see how the grace of God can come in and fill the holes left by our community’s failure, and that’s just too beautiful and too real to miss.”
I love the honesty of this reflection. The church will disappoint you. Something will make you want to stop attending worship, or drop off a committee, or withhold your pledge. However, Bolz-Weber invites us to consider that the grace of God “can come in and fill the holes left by our community’s failure.” This grace can be a beautiful thing!
During my time as your interim pastor, I have heard many joys about the
life of this church. I have also heard about disappointments - something someone said, a remark that sounded mean or bigoted, a perceived slight.
May I invite all of us – whether we have experienced disappointment or not – to think anew about Bolz-Weber’s invitation? In the midst of all that is
good at Congregational Church of Laconia, there is disappointment as well. How will we react? Is this an opportunity to cash in our chips, or are we
open to seeing how God’s grace might fill the holes in our hearts and lives?
With you on the Journey,
Interim Notes--July 2023
(Occasional “Food for Thought” in Less than 350 Words)
You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world
Matthew 5: 13 - 14
“Who brought the onion pita bread?”
It was Communion Sunday at a church I once served, and the Deacons were cleaning up from the service. Someone had purchased onion pita bread instead of plain pita and people were complaining. The bread didn’t taste like it usually did. I thought it was great. If the bread is supposed to be “the
body of Christ” a little onion or maybe even some garlic might actually bemore literal. But that wasn’t the point. It was not the “right” bread.
That incident reminded me of the folks who went hunting and agreed that one person would keep cooking until someone complained - and then that person would take over. Everyone was so complimentary of all the meals that the same person was stuck with the cooking. He decided to oversalt everything so a complaint could relieve him of his duties. People began to eat. They looked at each other with pursed lips. Finally, someone said, “Wow that food is so salty,” but then quickly added, “just the way I like it!”
In every church there are particular ways to do things. Inevitably someone is going to complain if things are not the way they have always been. However, it is okay to color outside the lines now and again. It’s in trying new things that creativity is sparked. That can be the fun of the interim time.
Maybe churches should institute the complaining rule as well. If there is an objection about this, that or the other thing, it is the complainers turn to undertake the task. I’m not advocating for oversalted potlucks, or purposefully poor meetings, but I am curious to see what would happen if we became more affirming, more encouraging and more welcoming.
With you on the journey,