A few weeks ago, our text for worship was Jeremiah 18: 1-11. It was the prophet’s observing the scene of a potter making a clay utensil. The pot as it was made was marred and it would not work as the potter intended. So, the potter reshaped the clay into a piece that be useful and serve his purpose. The passage goes on to say that the scene in the potter’s house is a metaphor for how God re-works and fashions his people as he wills. The potter has a design for his creation and as the one fashioning the pot, knows that it will not do what it was meant to do. So the potter returns the vessel to a lump of clay and reworks it into something useful that the potter intends.
As we related that story to our situation, I asked that we each look at our own life and see what God wants to re-shape and re-work for us to be useful to him. I also spoke of how this passage speaks to the church. Just as our individual lives need to be re-worked, there are areas in the life of our church which need to be re-worked and re-shaped.
For instance, as we continue a missional emphasis in our church, focusing our ministries outside the four walls of the church, I wonder how else we are being called to serve the community. What else can we do with our bread ministry so that we get that bread in the hands of more people who need it? How else can we partner with Dunn Elementary School to meet their needs? How else can we serve the neighbors around the church? What other ministries does God have in mind for us that might help other people and add others to our congregation?
I am pleased with how we have sensed God’s prompting and moved to be more externally focused in many of our ministries. But when I think about the future, some 5 years from now, I wonder what our congregation will look like. My guess is that we’ll all look and feel a little bit older. I also suspect that we likely won’t have the energy that we have now. If those guesses are mostly true, then I wonder that that means for this church as a whole. What ministries will we be able to sustain? What will we have to forego because of the limitations of time, money, age and those who are available to serve? What will this room look like in 5 years? Who will be here?
All of those are tough questions, but realistic ones. My vision in 5 years is for American Baptist Church to continue to be a vital congregation where multiple generations connect with each other. It is and will continue to be a place where people worship together, grapple with serious theological issues within the confines of love and acceptance – and where people serve and learn alongside each other as God continues to call us to serve Fort Collins and the larger world.
In this vision, I can see children running up and down the aisles before worship, eager to sing the song they’ve been learning in Children’s choir. I see the church in a Capital Funds Campaign to raise money for more building improvements. The parking lot expansion and re-surfacing has been finished and the building is getting a general face-lift. In this vision, I see a church that sponsors and staffs an after school program which helps parents who can’t afford an in-school program. I see a youth group that’s preparing to serve at a Senior Adult Tea all the while making plans for a summer mission trip to California. I see adults, young and old, working on a Habitat for Humanity House that local churches are sponsoring. I see a vision of a church with a bright future – a church of people who love Jesus and whose spirit is contagious as they live out their faith in the community.
While this is an ambitious vision, a part of my goal is to paint a picture of renewed vibrancy – a portrait of active and cooperative ministry enlivened through the Holy Spirit. This month, I invite you to reconsider the re-working that God is attempting in your life and in the life of the church. What needs to happen for God to more fully use us for his divine purposes? As a congregation, how do we need to be re-worked and re-shaped so that we can live out the vision that God has for us? Whatever the answers, may we be open and receptive to God’s working with us, caring for us as he crafts us into the people he wants us to be. With God’s interest and care in shaping us, may new potential and new possibilities abound.
– Pastor Bill