A friend recently sent me a video clip of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner with the message, “What would happen if you got what you wanted?” After years of watching the coyote try all sorts of methods to get the Road Runner, after all the money Coyote spent on products from the ACME Corporation (which inevitably blew up in his face), I have been conditioned to expect that Coyote never gets what he wants. In fact, I may have stopped watching that cartoon less because I grew out of it and more because the ending was always the same – poor mangled Coyote watches helplessly as the Road Runner joyfully speeds by unharmed – beep, beep!
However, in the video clip from my friend, the age old story has a different ending. Coyote catches the Road Runner! What was even more surprising than that is what happens to Coyote next. After the initial celebration, Coyote falls into despair. He had devoted his whole life to chasing the Road Runner. He never thought he would actually win. He never thought there would be a day when he wouldn’t chase his nemesis any longer. What’s next? All of a sudden, Coyote feels empty; he no longer has a goal or purpose to his life. And he falls apart.
I’ve been reading and rereading the Mission Study that our congregation created a few years ago as part of your search for a new pastor. I’ve read it to reflect on my work as your pastor so far and to understand what it is the congregation said that it wants to be in its life together and to do in its ministry. The Mission Study has helped me see the big picture of what you said you wanted and what you asked me to encourage in our work together. I asked the Personnel Commission to use it in seeking feedback on my work. The Mission Study challenges us to ask the question, “What would happen if we achieved what we wanted? What would our church community look like? How do we get there? And once there, what’s next?”
I’ve included the Vision section of the Mission Study after this article and would encourage you to read it. There is so much to reflect on in these collective words. They reach far and wide into our life and ministry. I offer them to you to reflect on our work together so far. We’ve made progress and we still have work to do. What I believe after reading these words is that we have all the resources we need to be the church and the people God is calling us to be. As the program year comes to a close, let me say thank you for your part in supporting our efforts to be the faithful disciples and faithful Body of Christ in our world. The singing, teaching, fellowship, education, food, outreach and working together have provided wonderful opportunities to share God’s love and grace. I‟m looking forward to our Mission Celebration Sunday in July to talk about all of this more together.
So what would happen if we got what we wanted, the kind of church and ministry all of this points to? What would happen? We would be a community that cares for every
person who walks through our doors and nurtures the seed of faith growing in each one, no matter where they are on the journey. We would be vital and growing, not because we want to increase our numbers, but because what we have in our faith and life together are gifts worth sharing with others. We would be actively engaged in God’s mission to our community and world. We would live and work together in a spirit of joyful worship and praise to the One who calls us together and sends us out with good news. Unlike Wile E. Coyote who fell into despair when he achieved his goal, I believe that we would be filled with an even greater sense of purpose – being on mission with God in the world, sharing God’s love and grace, peace and justice wherever life takes us. I look forward to living into this vision with you!
Serving Christ together,Chip
- our sense of community, commitment to one another, and vitality
- our strong lay leadership
- our congregation’s diverse talents, as we seek ways to employ them more broadly across our membership
- our Church School program
- having children in the sanctuary, as we look for ways to involve children and youth even more in our worship services
- our rich and varied worship experiences, strong preaching, our excellent music program
- adult education as more than just a time to learn, but also as an opportunity to communicate with one another and engage more with the local community
- the friendly welcoming face we present to newcomers
- our role as a healing community
- the continued vitality of our mission programs
- the multi-generational, family foundation of our congregation.
- to continue to be inclusive, accepting and supportive of diversity and evolution in our beliefs about God and the world in general
- to be open to God’s guidance for us as individuals and as a faith community open to embracing change
- to do a better job of keeping our youth population engaged and invigorated
- to grow our membership, not out of a sense of wishing to be “successful,” but because we believe that our church community and spirituality are not just for us to cherish, but that we are called to share with others
- to reach out more to other congregations and engage in more interfaith dialog and activities. However, we do not seek growth at the expense of our identity, and we do not wish to lose our small-church feel.