It is Easter. Some may believe that Easter was over on Easter Sunday, April 5th. In truth, we celebrate the power of the risen Christ for 50 days leading up to Pentecost on May 23.
As we make our way forward as a church community, we learn that recognition of the risen Christ in our lives is about community and relationship building. There are many resurrection stories in the Bible which speak of encounters with the risen Christ beyond the empty tomb — Jesus shared a breakfast of broiled fish at the beach with his disciples. Doubting Thomas could not believe in the risen Christ until he could touch him. One of my favorite stories is of the disciples discovering that Jesus was not a stranger on the road to Emmaus, but was revealed to them when they broke bread with Him in their homes. Similarly, the stories in Acts tell us about the early church where people shared meals together, praised God, and gave of their time and money to others as any had need. In other words, the hope, the wonder, and the joy of the risen Christ is made known to us in our relationships with God, Jesus and one another.
Relationships with the Christ in the context of a Christian community were central to the vitality and growth of the early church. It is no different for us at First Church today. As we think about how to grow in faith and numbers as a church, considering how we organize ourselves and create spaces for relationships to flourish is very important. How can we best use our time, talent, and money to offer a face of the risen Christ to more people? The other day, a parishioner suggested to me that a banner for our church might read, “First Congregational Church–where our spirit and hearts are connecting and growing”.
In this spirit, I think it is helpful for us to remember the four goals we have been working on as a church and will continue to work on into the future:
- Broaden our invitation to many different people, within and outside the Church, in many different ways.
- Build stronger relationships and connections among us.
- Find the right person for a job or activity they will enjoy and feel committed to.
- Strengthen our ways of working together.
In the next couple of months, we have two opportunities for us as a community to focus on our growth as a church in faith and numbers:
All are invited to our Community Collaborative on Tuesday, May 12 from 7-9 p.m. Together, we will hear reports from program staff detailing what was learned at three recent conferences about church growth and ministry with children, youth and families. We will talk together about how to encourage growth in the coming year, and review together the master calendar for 2015-2016.
On Tuesday, June 9, we will take a beginning look at some organizational designs for our church to be used as a basis for working on the next phase in our ReVision plan — developing a plan for reorganization. Our current committee structure will remain in place for one more year, but it is my hope that we will have a new organizational design in place in time for the nominating season in the Spring of 2016. This June meeting will set the stage for developing our reorganization plan, which will begin in earnest in the early fall.
May we all know the risen Christ as we grow in relationship and faith with one another.