Over the Great Fifty Days of Eastertide, I’ve shared what I believe to be misconceptions of the church. Undoubtedly, I missed a few, but Pentecost is around the corner, the Wind is picking up, and there are other things that deserve our attention. Seven weeks of someone suggesting you are a bit off base is quite enough, right?
Ecclesiastical Misconception #7 – We are not enough
I love sitting around a table with church leaders and meeting them for the first time. These are individuals who are giving of their time and talent in a volunteer capacity and who often arrive at the table after a full day of responsibilities. If it is an evening meeting, some have chowed down on supper in the car, or will have it waiting for them to microwave when they return (or they will sneak bites during Zoom). From the very beginning of the church, God has called folks from a range of backgrounds and experiences and it is downright humbling to sit at the leadership table with them.
Sometimes it’s also puzzling.
It’s almost as if there is a disconnect between what church leadership does in their day-to-day lives and what gifts they share at the table. It’s not exhaustion or over-extension (although there is no doubt that is real), but it seems in some cases as if all that life experience is checked at the door because they feel that it has no place in church leadership.
It makes me wonder if that unseen barrier works both ways. If folks aren’t bringing their lives to the leadership table at church, are they bringing their faith to the other tables they encounter every day, such as the boardroom and supper table?
I believe the church has been given all it needs to do the ministry it was called to do in this particular place and time. We are enough – because we do not do this work alone. We are enough when we bring our whole selves to this ministry because we’ve all been given different gifts.
In his article, The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity[i], Walter Bruggeman tackles a theology of scarcity from an economic stance stating that there is always enough if we share. I believe Pentecost pushes us to live into a theology of abundance that is not only economic but reflects the fullness of our lives. We are to bring everything to the work of sharing the Gospel. Not just our wallets. Not just our Sunday selves. The whole sum of who we are.
Isaac Watts, the great writer of hymns captures this perfectly in the final verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love, so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”.
As the Spirit continues to blow through our churches and our lives… may we remember by the grace of God we are enough.
[i] Brueggemann, W. (1999). The liturgy of abundance, the myth of scarcity. Christian Century, 116(10), 342-347.