Tuesday, March 1, 2016

God's Church

During worship we're looking at one of our eight Core Values in worship every Sunday.  This past Sunday, February 28, we looked at the Core Value, "God's Church."  The following is what I shared at the end of my sermon. 
You can watch the sermon here: https://vimeo.com/157065970
You can see a list of the eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes here: http://www.colpres.org/purpose-statement-values/              

         As part of this series we’ve been looking at one of our Core Values in worship.  I think it’s appropriate to look at the Core Value, “God’s Church.”  God’s church connects to the voice at the burning bush that said “I AM WHO I AM.”    
            At Chain of Lakes we understand this Core Value to mean:
"In every decision we seek to discern God’s desire. No leader, person, or ministry is more important than what God wants."

This is my favorite Core Value.  It’s tied for first with the other seven. 
            One reason I love this Core Value is it answers the question, Who owns, leads, and controls the church?  Who owns, leads, and controls Chain of Lakes Church? 
            What we’re saying is that the people don’t own the church, I don’t own the church, no staff person owns the church, no individual owns the church, and even the Presbytery doesn’t own the church.  They own the property, but they don’t own the church.  God owns the church.
            This might be the hardest of our eight Core Values to live out.  Who doesn’t struggle with control?.   
            I remember a story that Bruce Reyes Chow shared a while ago.  A few years back he was the Moderator of the General Assembly.  When he preached at opening worship of General Assembly that was held in Minneapolis in 2010.  He shared a story about how he got in trouble with an elderly woman in the congregation he served.  This woman was in charge of the flowers.  When Bruce said in charge, he truly meant in charge.  This woman liked to have the flowers in the same spot in the sanctuary every Sunday.  The vase for the flowers had been put in the same spot for so long that the carpet had been indented.  It wasn’t hard to know where to put the flower vase in worship.  Just look for the indentation.
            One Sunday the woman wasn’t in worship.  Someone—I don’t know if it was Bruce—put the flowers in a different place.  The woman found out.  Guess what happened?  All—you know wht—broke loose.  As soon as the woman found out she called Bruce on a phone and requested a meeting.  Bruce talked about the fear he had about this meeting—his sense of dread.  The future Moderator of the General Assembly was scared—to talk—to a woman—about flowers.
            Let’s be honest.  It’s really easy for this to happen.  One person does something and we like it and we get used to that person doing it and that person is in control.  This might work for a while, but soon everyone knows this person is in control.  The rest of the congregation doesn’t want to suggest anything different because the congregation doesn’t want to risk a disagreement with this person.  All of a sudden the mission of the church becomes about weird things—like flowers.  
            I think we do very well with this value at Chain of Lakes—but we’re human—so we always have to be on guard.
            Tell me if this has ever happened to you.  We develop an idea or a position or a policy that we think is right.  Another person has an idea, position or policy that opposes our own belief.  Most of us—and certainly me included think, “I am right; you are wrong.”
            I know where the flower vase goes; I know what is best.  We’re going to do it—like Frank Sinatra said—my way
            For myself I know I have control issues, but I really don’t want to control things.  I want God to control things.  I have come up with a test that helps me with this.  This test can be used in church, in family, and our work setting.  The test is this.
            Imagine Jesus coming to us and asking us to do the exact opposite of what we think is right.  Would we let go of our idea, position or policy?.  Maybe that person who has a different idea is expressing the voice of Jesus.
            This shows the value of prayer. 
Let me close with this prayer.
"Lord, I have an idea—I am very sure it’s the right idea.

Help me be open to what you want.  If you have a different idea, give me the openness to change."

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