The partnership conversations between New Summit Church and Summit Springs Community Church continue, and should be picking up in intensity in the coming month.
Pastor Corey and I are continuing the listening events. We want to hear from you about your hopes and dreams, about the obstacles you see, and about your sense of the commitment required. Our next event will be Wednesday, July 29, at 7:00 p.m. To date we have met with 40 different individuals. Our best estimate is that there are still over 50 adults and 15+ teens who might participate in one of these meetings. We hope to include you in the process, so please be looking for announcements of the different opportunities. If you are unable to attend, you can still let us know: What are your hopes and dreams for the new church emerging from this partnership? What are the primary obstacles we face? What do you think it will take for the partnership to be successful? Are you "in"? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, this next part of today's letter is difficult. I need to warn you about a huge obstacle that is just around the corner for the two congregations and for the partnership.
We are coming to the "decisions" part of the process. Over the next month or two, Corey and I will be meeting with leaders, with our Administrative Commission from the presbytery, and with the congregation. We will be laying out the details of the proposed partnership. We will try to do this as soon as possible, but without sacrificing the kind of accuracy and details necessary to do the work well. You can expect some recommendations and suggestions about: name, vision, mission, values, leadership, staff, finances, site, programs, outreach, worship....pretty much everything.
Why will this season be an obstacle? Because, during the next few months, we will all be challenged by the loss of things we have come to appreciate, and the uncertainty of things we have not yet attempted.
You can expect to see the end of some traditions you have valued.
You can expect to have some disagreements.
You can expect to have some uncomfortable conversations.
Why am I being so blunt? Because the best way to approach the challenges we face is to approach them honestly, head on, and with trust in one another and in the God who has called us together. We will need, in the words of Patrick Lencioni, "pure, unfiltered, debate." We will need specific decisions that are clear to everyone. We will need to be accountable to live out the role that each one of us is called to play in the transition and in the future of the church. We will need to have a healthy focus on the results we are trying to achieve. (These ideas are further unpacked in the great book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team).
Make no mistake- I believe that our two congregations have an amazing future together as one congregation. I have seen God at work. I believe we have a unique opportunity to love and serve God, one another, and the community in which we are placed. I believe we have a message to share about a place where everyone is truly welcomed. I believe we have a powerful "center" around which to build: our core beliefs in God (as revealed through Jesus Christ); God's word in Scripture; the call to corporate worship; the call to personal discipleship; the call to intentional community; and the call to acts of service for others.
More personally, I believe that YOU have a place in this partnership. I want to see the emerging church become the community of faith that loves you, inspires you, motivates you, challenges you, develops you, and calls you to the greater things of God in each and every part of your life.
But this will not be easy. Especially for those who have had the highest level of ownership and participation in either of the two congregations. You will be tested. Corey and I will do everything we can to love and honor everyone in the process, but we also realize that true love faces the challenges of life honestly and with courage.
Are you ready for the next great thing that God wants to do in your life, and in our community of faith? Let's go there...together.