An additional worship service is in the works. At our congregational council meeting on Tuesday, July 13 at the end of the meeting, when the majority of folks are antsy for a motion to adjourn, someone brought up the idea (again) of an additional worship service that wasn’t strictly traditional. Surprisingly enough, instead of tabling the topic till next time or shooting it down, people actual wanted to hang around and talk this topic out. The end result was a council motion to explore starting an additional worship service that would be more modern in nature by this November. They appointed Evan Schaefer as its leader, asking him to recruit a team.
Why am I writing about this in my lead article? Honestly, I didn’t want any of our members to be surprised by this. I’m also aware that new worship options within traditional Lutheran churches garner a lot of questions and a lot of anxiety… as they should. However, It is my hope that a healthy Christian community can ask questions and weather anxiety’s storms for the betterment of its ministry and to the glory of God.
Just to be clear, a new worship option at Greenford Lutheran is something I gave up on back in 2016. At that time we had a different music director/organist and a different council. Back then council at the request of members asked me to “cease and desist” with moving the congregation toward having a once a month modern worship experience. Looking back I understand why that came to be and even see God’s hand in that action.
In 2013, I arrived “on fire” with the commission I thought I’d been given by the call committee and consequently the church council to help the congregation move into the 21st century. At the time we had an active youth praise band called “Creo” that the congregation seemed to thoroughly enjoy. We had an extremely talented organist who had helped the congregation and choir learn new music. These were similar elements which I had used in previous congregations to provide a more modern/blended style of worship. Overconfidently I thought this transition would take about two years and be challenging but not heart rending. I was wrong.
What went wrong? There’s always more than enough blame to go around. For my part I apologize for being more head strong than tender hearted, more goal oriented than member minded. The fortunate thing is that I can actually see God’s hand in that first attempt “going down in flames” (I don’t think I’m exaggerating about “the flames.” Do you remember the organist calling a not so clandestine meeting to replace me with her pre-selected pastor whom she invited to the “meet and greet”?)
The good news was the council members who told me to “cease and desist” were folks I highly respected and I actually listened. For me to listen rather than react to criticism, that’s a God thing! I decided to put the need for a more modern worship experience in God’s hands, back off, and focus on other parts of ministry. Within a week of “licking my wounds” and wondering “Why Lord?” My mother’s health took an unexpected turn for the worse. This lead to her being hospitalized and dying the very next month.
Her death was not God’s blessing. The blessing was that while I was trying to be there for her and my dad, I wasn’t distracted by trying to serve a church that was out to “tar and feather” me. Another blessing was noticing God’s timing in all this. God knew long before I did, that events were unfolding that would have a decidedly bad influences on transitioning to a more modern worship service.
Within 6 months our youth band “Creo” would break up due to graduations, school and work schedules. In addition to that the organist would resign. Looking back, trying to keep an alternative worship service going without any of those supports would have been the recipe for disaster! God knowing that sent folks to tell me “pay attention to your mother and your members…God will take care of the rest.”
So here we are 5 years later and I’m convinced God’s done a good job of taking care of GLC. Now, the council in a summer meeting when they could have gone home early… instead decides to talk out this topic again. Not only that, but they set a time frame by which they want to see some return on their efforts (this Nov.) Is it a God thing? Perhaps. The only way to know is through time and a lot of prayer.
God seems to have his eye out for little Greenford Lutheran. Who knew when the music director bought an electric piano to replace the choir’s practice piano in Jan. 2020 that it would become a key piece in offering Drive In worship during the COVID crisis? For that matter, who knew that the Men’s Group taking advantage of a winter thaw in Feb of 2020 by completing an old wish list project of running electricity out to the shed and pavilion would also provide the basis for offering Drive In worship? Only through time and prayer was God’s true purpose revealed.
So, time and prayer is what I’m asking of our members on this new council project. I’m hoping it will become a congregational project. I’m fairly certain for this project to truly be God pleasing, it needs to be member led and driven not simply staff led or council driven. Please, give this project time… and most importantly give this project your heartfelt prayers.
Who knows where this new project will lead? Maybe we’ll have two very different worshipping styles under one roof? Perhaps we’ll find out what we do best is traditional worship and that’s all we need to offer? Those kind of possibilities can create a lot of challenges and anxiety for any congregation. Good thing we know little GLC is in good hands… no not a good council or a good staff… we’re in God’s hands and that’s the best place to be.
All in God’s good time,