January 6, 2016

The Cabinets and the Bishop are at our annual January retreat this week.  We are meeting at the Detroit Conference Camp on Lake Huron.  It is a beautiful camp and retreat center and today, right at this moment, I am staring out at the lake overlooked by a wonderful expanse of blue sky and sunshine.  It really is great….especially from the warm confines of the retreat center!

As those of you who know me are aware, and as I have shared from this forum in the past, I like observing nature….from a distance.  I appreciate, very much, the beauty of the lake today, I like driving by the woods or viewing some of the outstanding Michigan sights from those terrific scenic overlooks that MDOT provides!  But, I don’t like to be out in nature, I especially don’t like to have nature on me, in any regard.  And, as I thought about my relationship with nature this reminded me, a little, of the way I see some people engage their experience with the Church.

Some people come to worship…when there is nothing else to do.  They often don’t really sing the music or absorb the liturgy too much.  They simply observe the service from a distance.  They rarely get involved in leadership beyond the occasional response to an appeal to help with a one-time event.  They are hesitant to give much time or energy to the mission and ministry the congregation is seeking to accomplish.

While many churches these days (especially those who have entered the VCI process) seek to discover ways to help folks grow deeper in their discipleship through study and mission, the folks I’m thinking of would avoid those offerings and rarely, if ever, attend or participate.  These folks are the consummate observers.  They take it all in…from a distance.

If the things I have described sound familiar to you, if you can see yourself in that picture, I want to invite you to decide that this year is going to be different!  I invite you to step into 2016 with a different attitude and priority!  I invite you to step into your church with both feet!  Give yourself to God and to a fuller participation in the work, worship and ministry of your congregation.  If you do, I believe you will discover an incredible joy that can only be found when you move from a place of observation to a place of engagement.


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