Dear Partners in Ministry,
In an old issue of Rev., a magazine to which I subscribed, there is an article entitled, “Pioneering Change as a Church Leader.” The article is based on the premise that there are “two kinds of churches on our North American landscape today: Dying churches and changing churches.” It states, “If you are not changing you are probably dying.” The article also focuses on the roles of 2 types of people that are needed or needing to be heard in the church today – those are the dreamers, and the risk takers. It continues stating that “today’s churches,” (including our churches), “need courageous dreamers and pioneers that will make the church work for the world in the near future and beyond. We desperately need visionaries” (or in our case, individuals with a vision) “that can lead our churches into a vital future of ministry that meets the spiritual needs of today’s world.”
Ironically, the article confirms that “Most people resist change. They prefer the certainty of their misery rather than the misery of uncertainty.”
Imagine, if I made up personalized business cards for each of you as members of our individual PLUM churches. It might have the church’s name and address in bold raised type including the church’s phone number. Also on the card, your name would appear with a line underneath stating your role within the life of the congregation. For instance, remember Pastor Richard Hill? He was the parish pastor that came in from New York Synod last May to look over our Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries. The line under his name defining his role in the life of the church he served said, “Pastor and Mission Developer.” Look at your life over this past year. What role do you play in the life of the church today? What in your mind should that line say on your business card that describes the ministry you do within the life of your congregation?
Often, we do not see ourselves as being valuable members of the church; when in fact, we are the church. For most of those around us, we are the only thing people see about the church. We are its salesmen, its advertisement, its clean-up crew, its maintenance department - but we are also its future. If the church is to grow, it will only be because we take seriously the role of our visionaries, dreamers and risk takers.
Either we are born anew or we are dead. Either we see the Lord and a future that is worth our laying down resources, of time money, energy, and even our lives, or we are merely sitting waiting for another savior. So I ask again, what is your role in your church family? What should be on your business card? What do your friends, neighbors and those around you see when it comes to matters of faith and life in the church. I ask this because we know the Lord has unbelievable things planned for us and God’s Spirit is alive and well here in our midst. May we consciously choose “the misery of uncertainty” and boldly proclaim the Christ that is in us. May we always see beyond our fears and the world’s limitations and trust our Lord.
Remember that each of us has a task. Not all are dreamers, teachers, servers, visionaries, healers, evangelists, critics, leaders, followers, etc. and most within our small congregations perform multiple or switch roles all the time, but each of us are critical as part of the Body of Christ here in our individual congregational ministries, our collective ministries in PLUM and Church as a whole.
Let us know what you would see as your role/job title on your church business card?
Pastor John J. Gropp
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204 412-331-0600