Can We Talk About That?

May 2, 2010

Message from Pastor Dan Scott

Filed under: Blogroll,Christ,Community,Community Service,Faith,Family,Life with God,Love,Nashville — canwetalkaboutthat @ 6:27 PM

Most of you have heard that Christ Church canceled all services today. Since I  am sitting in my office until the normal time of our second morning service, I thought I would write to the folks on my sermon distribution list.  Feel free to pass this along to anyone connected to our church since I do not have the ability today to do an all-church email blast.

I greeted about fifteen people who showed up for our first morning service today. Now I am waiting for any who may show up for our second service.

(Our music band was here ready for service, along with the illustrious Regi Stone – with a tie, today of all weeks! You should have seen that. Daniel Bell was here too but asking fifteen people for an offering seemed over the top. Several ushers and the camera people – that’s why I was able to stream a message and post it on the internet.)

The entire Middle Tennessee area is suffering massive floods and storms today. Yesterday, several people lost their lives when they were caught in floods. So, our mayor and police have asked us to stay home. We have responded as citizens should.

This situation illustrates in a way the sermon I prepared for today and which I will send out tomorrow. We like to say things like “the church is not a building or an organization; it’s the people: the Body of Christ.” And it’s true, of course. However, we forget that in the day practicality of things. The attention of a church leader is often more directed toward practical issues in the institution than toward shepherding a flock.

This week was terribly difficult for our entire staff because of an institutional decision that had to be made about money. The government has imposed a tax on a portion of our buildings that has reached $375,000. We still owe a mortgage of $12,000,000.00. Our giving has remained strong, even during this severe economic down turn – we are only receiving 5% less in tithes than last year. Nonetheless, with the building and the tax, we have no place more to go to cut than salaries. So we had to inform some of our colleagues that their employment with the church as an institution was coming to an end.

That is hard news to give and hard news to receive. The amazing thing is the love and trust that they have extended toward me as a pastor. It has deeply moved me.

With the spiritual renewal we have been experiencing, it makes me think that God may want us to discover another way of organizing and experiencing church.

Small churches just roll with the tide. If there is no money to pay the preacher, he gets another job. He doesn’t quit serving. That forces the people to serve as well. Its messy and imperfect from a standpoint of presentation. However, the spiritual family of God keeps doing its work: serving the flock, loving the people, learning the word. In larger churches, we set up a system where a professional church staff runs everything. Volunteers become grunt workers. They may be needed for small and menial tasks, but hardly for pastoring, teaching and so forth.

That is what grows the intuition to a place where it begins require the most attention and the most money. We all dislike it; but what do we do about it?

A storm hitting like this makes us think: what would we do if there were no building?  How can we help those churches whose buildings may be unfit for service next week? Is everyone safe?

Those are kingdom questions. Answering them – even ineffectively – is kingdom work.

Well, why can’t we think like that all the time?

Our church has been experiencing a spiritual awakening. The Lord obviously intends to do something with us and to us. If the institution is experiencing a bit of stress right now, why would we allow that to hinder our fellowship, love for one another or service to God?

More on this tomorrow in my sermon. I hope you get to read it because I need to hear from our people. The congregation has within it the Spirit of God. He promises to lead us “Here a little; there a little; line upon line; precept upon precept.” In other words, God’s voice is discerned as we pay attention to the words, warnings, visions, dreams, and research of the people of God. I believe God will move mighty through this church if the people will share their insights and time with one another. Community is the only way forward.

Speak Lord: we are listening.

Pastor Dan Scott
Christ Church Nashville

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