Pastor Steve's Blog Posts
I received this picture from a parishioner. For me it's a visual on why we are taking another look at the culture, the core values, and the future direction of First UMC. For the record, I want to answer the last question on our "Who R We" survey: What hopes and dreams do you have for this church?
First of all, I want to say I love this church! I know all of you do, too. On this we are agreed.
And I love the people of this church. You are amazing! You are outstanding! Your history is one of people who were not afraid to change when change was in the best interest of the church. You have called 4 buildings home, and have modified this one when your commitment to the future called for it. I admire that! I honor those who made the tough decisions to insure this church would have a future.
Simply put, my answer to "What hopes and dreams do you have for the church" is-L.I.F.E. Classes. In the 4 L.I.F.E. Classes I lay out my hopes and dreams for First UMC. But I don't think of them as my hopes and dreams. What I hope and dream for First UMC is my understanding of what you were hoping and dreaming for when you wrote your Vision Statement in 2005; and they are in alignment with what church consultant Kent Hunter recommended in 1996 as your next steps to keep growing as a church. I also believe that this vision is not my vision but what God has given me to do. Building a great church based on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is the ministry Christ has put on my heart. The L.I.F.E. classes describe in detail what that vision, those hopes, those dreams can look like.
But now we are asking the question, "Who R We?" Which means we are again (still?) trying to discern the path Christ wants us to take into the future. And that means there is not consensus that what I describe in L.I.F.E. is who we are or where we want to go. And I need to respect that. More than anything else, I want to do what's best for First UMC. I want us to be on the same wavelength. I only want to do what God wants to bless, and frankly, God hasn't been blessing the L.I.F.E classes lately-participation has fallen off dramatically. That's an indicator that we should be asking these questions at this time.
And so, in the spirit of unity and working toward the common goal of discerning what God wants and where Jesus wants his church to go, I am going to teach the L.I.F.E. Classes for one more cycle ... and then I am going to suspend. I do not have a corner on wisdom. To do what's best for First UMC I need to set aside my preconceived notions and listen to the Holy Spirit, work with the Leadership Council, trust that together in prayer we can know and do God's will for First UMC, and be okay with whatever conclusion we come to.
The next (and possibly last) cycle of L.I.F.E. Classes begins May 6 and concludes August 22 and 29. As always, I ask for your prayers that I may be the spiritual leader you need me to be. And as always, I'm praying for you, that God will bless you, bless us, and show us the way to God's preferred future for First UMC.
Your servant in Christ,