This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, the God who summons horses and chariots and armies—they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
Isaiah 43:16-19 The Message
This passage from Isaiah appears at the front of a publication by the General Assembly titled “On Calling a Pastor.” I think it captures the energy that church members feel as they begin to turn toward the unknown—some with trepidation, some with excitement. The unknown future is a road marked by risk and reward. But there are a few things that can be affirmed and relied upon:
- Emmanuel Presbyterian Church has a future! This church is alive with relationships and energy. Yes, the North American Christian church overall is in a state of decline but that doesn’t mean that we are dying. It does mean that we are being transformed into something new.
- This is a time for using your imagination! Have you been sitting in the pews wondering about new things that you would like to try or old things you would like to bring back? This is the moment for sharing those ideas. So attend a committee meeting and share your perspective. Yes, most new ideas will not come to fruition, but that is not the point. The point is developing the courage to dream.
- This is a time for new leadership to emerge! In order for the future to be freed from the limits of the past, new energy and input must flow in. If you have been on the sidelines, prayerfully consider stepping up to the plate. The door is opening; now is the time.
- There is nothing to fear. Notice I didn’t say everything is going to be okay, just that there is no reason to be afraid. Having worked with churches that have lots of difficulties, I can witness to the fact that churches are resilient and survive hardship. Therefore, armed with the assurance that you can overcome obstacles, move ahead with confidence.
Searching for a new pastor is not just about who is going to be your next pastor. Actually, it’s hardly about that at all. It’s far more about who you are becoming as a church. So, don’t sit back passively hoping that the future will treat you well. Engage the future with courage, imagination, openness and trust. God is about to do something brand new here at Emmanuel. It’s bursting out. Don’t you see it?
Blessings, Pastor Jen