Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred….

If you are of a certain generation, or if you love musicals, I’ve just given you an ear worm. I’d apologize, but at least it’s a really GOOD ear worm (and not something like “Baby Shark”. Oops.)

For those who aren’t pleasantly humming along, the song is “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. The numbers refer to the number of minutes in a year, and the lyrics are reflective in nature and beg the question of appropriate metrics. How do we measure a year of our lives? The as the lyricist here suggests that we measure our seasons in love. *

How do we measure a life?

How do we measure a congregation’s life?

Is it the number of bulletins run off on a Sunday morning, or the size of the choir? Is it the successful capital campaign, or the number of folks who come to the food pantry? How do we measure our life together?

For too long we church folk have been captivated by the 3 B’s…. Buildings, Butts and Bucks. We’ve measured our success by these three metrics, and when they begin to fail, we panic. If we’re not the most successful church on the block, who are we? What are we?

More importantly, what if we’ve been measuring the wrong thing all this time?

As I begin to move around the Presbytery and visit congregations and their leaders, I’m often given a tour. I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a sanctuary junkie. I love church architecture, and stained glass makes me swoon. Cayuga-Syracuse has its share of gorgeous churches.

What I’m finding myself captivated by is not the beautiful wood and the lofty arches, but rather the stories I hear about how our congregations have helped transform lives. Beautiful buildings fade into memory, but lives that have been changed because someone has seen the Gospel enacted and has come to desire a relationship with our God? Those stories, those memories, they last. I find myself reflecting on them after the visit, and lifting up those involved in the story in my prayers.

Sort of like a good ear worm.

What lasting impression has your congregation made on your community?

*As an aside, Jonathan Larson who composed “Seasons” died unexpectedly the night before Rent premiered. His season is measured in the beauty and message of this song.

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