I've been reading Becoming a Blessed Church, by N. Graham Standish again. I say "again," because I was reading it a few months back, and then stopped for some reason and for other unknown reason, I've started again.
It's been a good book to read, and I'm jazzed that it will be the focus of a class at this year's School for Congregational Learning in Des Moines.
What I have read so far, has reminded me a lot about the importance of prayer and of faith in the life of a congregation. Standish shares stories of two pastors who totally relied on faith and prayer in their endeavors and how things just seemed to work out. The first was about Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, the author of the book The Purpose-Driven Life and the second was Walt Kalestad, pastor of Community Church of Joy, a Lutheran congregation in Arizona. Both churches are what one would call a megachurch, but Standish isn't trying to tell people "do-this-and-you-too-will-become-a-megachurch." He focuses on how they relied on God and how they had faith in God. Standish would say they were open to God's power.
As I was putting this week's sermon, I was reminded of the faith of the Cannanite woman. She believed in Jesus, even when Jesus seemed to be dissing her.
It reminded me of my own recently life and how much I tend to be a functional atheist at times.
When Community of Grace was still going, I was placing my trust in things that ultimately let me down: local churches, the Region and techniques.
Now, I should say, I am not blaming these people or institutions. What I am saying is that I was placing trust in these things, and not on God.
I wonder what would have happened if all the time spent trying to get the attention of local churches and trying this and that to attract people to the church, would have been spent in prayer and asking for God's guidence? Something tells me that things might have turned out differently.
I'm not saying that prayer is some kind of good luck charm and that if I did enough of it, things would be different. But maybe praying would have reminded me who I was doing this for and whose power to rely on instead of my own power.
You really gotta have faith.