By Lela Gilmore, Council Member at Large
Have you even taken a trip without a plan? I don’t mean a Sunday afternoon spontaneous “let’s take a drive and see where we end up” kind of trip, but a real vacation type trip with all the kids and maybe Aunt Ethel, too, for two weeks, to an out of state location? Perhaps you’re the adventurous type and have given this “no plan style” a try, but usually the trip involves a plan with many stages and steps before you even think about getting into the car to leave.
Without a plan, you get weary travelers, hungry back-seaters, bored passengers, etc. Perhaps that uncomfortable feeling sounds familiar as we’ve been journeying through “transition time” which is our trip-to-the-future of our congregation? Perhaps you’ve wondered, why we aren’t “getting on with the process” or “why haven’t we developed a list of potential candidates and started the interview process yet?”.
A well thought out vacation begins with a step one, then two, and then the next, and the next. Our trip as a congregation needs to follow this same strategy. This process is called “transition”, because we are making, according to Webster, “a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another”.
Transition is also “a movement, development or evolution, from one form, stage or style to another”,… also quite aptly describing our “trip”, and not generally understood as something to be done immediately, in one step, or ‘in a blink’, but as a process (one STEP at a time).
Just as that road trip with the Aunt Ethel required a plan: choice of destination; selecting a time frame; scheduling a vehicle check-up; booking motels; packing bags for each family member; books and toys to keep everyone occupied; mapping the route and scheduling rest and food stops; selecting car-friendly snacks; first-aid kits and necessary meds; clean-up supplies, etc., etc., etc., so too our journey has required a plan and many specific steps to help us navigate the path of change without stumbling, getting lost, or falling off a cliff!
We’ve successfully navigated several of these steps already, almost painlessly! There are just a few more to go….stay with the driver and all will be well.
According to Martin Luther, ”……….we are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end but it is the road…..”.
Have faith and patience, many others have been through this process and have proven that it works. In the discomfort of “discovery and discernment” we find out we might just be different than we were a couple of years ago, or what we might be a few years down the road. Just as each one of us is growing and changing, so are we as a congregation. Again, per Webster, a ‘congregation’ is described as “an organized body of believers in a particular locality” and ‘congregating’ as “an act or instance of bringing together”. Each step in the process helps us discover where we are and where we would like to go, and then , “Surprise!!!!”, we may not all have the same ideas about “where” and “when” and “how”!! That’s where the ‘coming together’ enters in.
So we continue, one step at a time with the plan, continually checking (by the process) with each other for answers and ideas and ways to work toward an end and a coming together. By virtue of being “members of the body” we each have a say, a vote and an opportunity to contribute to the good of the body, an opportunity to help make the best and most comfortable ‘road trip’ we can, with a destination we can all appreciate.
Obviously this growth and movement continues……Luther’s advice is as applicable today as it was 500 years ago,…“this is not the end, but it is the road”….
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.