Aug30WedAugust 30, 2017
Next week, our eldest son and I will travel down to the Shawnee National Forest to embark on our yearly hiking trip. During the previous trips, we visited many of the marked trails in the Northeast corner of the forest by driving from site to site. This year, we are going to attempt to visit each trail by foot, making a zig-zag line westward for several miles before turning around and finding our way back to our campsite. Some of the hiking will take us on familiar, well-marked trails. The rest of the hiking will lead us into unmarked and unfamiliar territory.
Part of the goal will be to teach my son how to use a compass and a map to find the marked trails and sources of water while enjoying the adventure of exploration. I’m hoping that revisiting some familiar paths will give us some confidence in the midst of walk through uncharted territory.
As a pastor, I believe that First Mennonite is also on a similar journey. There are many familiar paths before us as the fall routine of ministry approaches. There will be Wednesday night activities, Bible Studies, service opportunities, group meetings and the joy of regathering on Sunday mornings now that summer vacation has ended. However, there are also many uncharted paths ahead.
Our church family has grown numerically over the past year and so there are new relationships to build and the challenge of caring for new individuals. This is uncharted territory. The Church Board approved Church Interiors, Inc. to propose a renovation concept for our Sanctuary. Such as conversation has not happened since the Sanctuary was built in 1960’s. This is uncharted territory. Tom Linderman has stepped into his new role as ‘Pastor of Family Life’ to provide resources, support and equipping to teachers and parents of children. This is new for us and new for Tom. Our denomination continues to decline and splinter while Area Conferences have varying concepts of authority and accountability. It remains unclear as to either what MC USA will become or how FMC should engage with our denominational home. This is certainly uncharted territory. Then, there is the lingering question for the year, “How are we growing together in prayer?” Certainly, we have more to do in order to be a ‘praying people’ as defined in our small group study by Paul Miller. This is also uncharted territory.
Yet, none of these uncharted moments ought to be a cause for fear – but rather a sense of adventure. After all, we do have a map (the Scriptures) and a compass (the Holy Spirit.) Over the past several weeks, our Daily Scripture Readings have taken us to Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. In these, the Apostle continued to remind these leaders to return to God’s Word for faithful living (Titus 2:1) and ministry training (2 Timothy 2:16) and to fan into flame the leading of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6) by continually asking the Spirit to lead us in power, love, self-control and renewal (2 Timothy 2:7, Titus 3:5). When you find yourself in a new territory without a clear path, turn to God’s Word and depend upon the Holy Spirit in prayer! Without these, we will wander around and may get lost. But with these, I believe we’ll experience the adventurous joy of following Jesus together. Here we go!