What a great bunch of people! Of course, I am referring to the people of UPCM! I can't believe I have been with you for one month already. Yes . . . time flies when you are having fun. And . . . I am having fun. Ministry in your midst is a joy...as well as a privilege. And yes . . . you are a gift from God to me. God's call to serve you and lead you is God's word to me: Betz, I still have much work for you. Be on with it.
As I anticipate our life and work together during the interim period, let me lift up four realities we face as we think about our common ministry. Presbyterian pastor and spiritual director John Ackerman lists four things people are seeking.
The Reality of God.
People are yearning for and finding what women and men found in the Great Awakening: A vital personal relationship with the living God. Too often people do not find this in their local churches. The normal parish may focus is on one style of spirituality such as Cursillo, prayer groups, or social action, but few encourage a variety of spiritual approaches that suit the heart-felt needs of a wide range of people. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work.
People want to find God in the company and community of other seekers --- often in an informal setting that includes people of all ages. This happens when people commit themselves to be together in small groups. (See Acts 2:42)
Empowerment to find God.
People need to be empowered to find their own pathway to God. For too long churches have been more concerned with running programs than with helping people...people in the church and people they are trying to reach beyond the church...find and follow the direction of God. People need specific help for their personal spiritual growth. Churches need to move from a Christian education paradigm...to spiritual transformation paradigm. People need to talk about how they can find God's call and God's presence in their jobs and relationships.
An Inclusive Spirituality.
People are looking for a broad, inclusive approach to spirituality that is more than “Jesus and me.” Yes, they want close intimacy with God, but increasingly people want transparent relationships with their spouses and a few close friends. They also desire a theological stance that is open to people of other faiths...Evangelism that has more to do with “sharing their stories” than with clobbering people over the head.
Let us work...together...to address these four realities in everything we are and do! And let's have a a whole lot of fun in the process!