Church Innovations’ Partners Post

January 6, 2010

Why all this focus on peace, shalom, abundance?


When we used to walk along the gulf in Thessaloniki, my Greek friends would assess the state of the water:  ripple-free was Dead, and churning was Alive. And Alive was good and abundant (shalom).


For our Bremer Grant congregation partners, who are each in their own ways encountering their communities and engaging in their challenges (Sudanese immigration, denominational affiliation, being supportive as they raise teenagers, steering a faithful course as they encounter new needs), peace, shalom, and abundance are especially valuable commodities.  This peace of God is not placid, free from waves of disagreement, but energetic from riding through the roiling sea.


In the US you can still find persons who have been life-long active members of local congregations.  If those life-long church goers are honest, they will tell you there has never actually been a time in the church without some controversy or another. In the intervals between big social controversies, the local church had its own disagreements over money or staff or direction. And between all of those conflicts, individual persons have had their own times of struggle and pain over life and death and their own faith walk.  It might be said, in fact, that congregations are the only persistent form of large-group voluntary social interaction where, at any given moment, war is about to break out somewhere with someone. 


The thing about Christian communities is that they are exactly the places to be during times of struggle. Individuals wrestling with life need to know they are cared for by others who also wrestle. Groups struggling with one another need to know that, as they disagree over particular issues, what holds them together is that they are all called to a place in God’s mission in the world, a mission bigger than any number of sides on any number of questions.  At Church Innovations it is really our privilege to walk with churches as they decide how to keep being trustworthy places where you can wrestle and still do the work God has called you to share, striving side by side. Such striving side by side means that while you may profoundly disagree on some key issues, you agree that your disagreeing matters less than your responding faithfully to God’s call to God’s mission.

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