PROJECT: Punchlist

This is the final sermon in our PROJECT worship series on Stewardship. We’ve covered all the Colors of Communication and hopefully you’ve discovered what color you speak. Hopefully this will help all of us communicate well with one another. Because here’s the brute fact: We need all the colors to be a healthy church.

If the church were just yellow, then we’d be a vague spiritual club which gathers and discusses spirituality at a conceptual level. I’ve seen churches go this route. They will borrow from other traditions until they lose sight of their own tradition and suddenly God is not named in worship. Or Jesus. But instead you have a strange mashup of traditions that doesn’t really hold together or stand for anything nor does anything really get accomplished tangibly.

If the church were just green, then we’d have a whole big structure process. The unofficial motto would be “We’ve Never Done That Before, New Ideas Need Not Apply.” The church becomes stuck. It’s one big endless cycle of meetings where nothing gets decided. Sara Miles writes in her book Take This Bread that we’ll be discussing tomorrow at 7 p.m., “My suspicion was that committees on churches served the same purpose as committees in other institutions: They were holding tanks for people who professed interest in an issue but didn’t always want to act. Why spend months coaxing a perfectly worded position paper on hunger and service out of a committee when you could just grab some helpers, buy some food, and give it away?”[1]

This truth is a hard one to hear for we who love our structure and committees. But Church, people are looking for meaning not meetings.

If the church was just blue, then we’d ask for your tax statement to make sure you give 10% of your income. Things would be brutally efficient and bare-bones. All data driven and sleek, but it would lack the needed humanity. Church becomes just another business in these models, and it’s big business. I would put many televangelists in this arena, and I don’t think we want to become this.

This is what Jesus was talking about in our scripture today. The disciples are marveling at the temple. Look at what has been built! But Jesus doesn’t care. “Not one stone will be left here upon another” he says. Utterly unconcerned about the power of the institution. The bar is low for what Jesus is building; two or three gathered in Christ’s name. The kingdom is there. That small mustard seed. It’s not about our budget or building, it’s about being faithful.

If the church were just red, then it’d be a social club. We’d love getting together and sharing life and hanging out, but we wouldn’t read any of the troubling passages in the bible. So that’d leave out most of the Prophets, and a lot of the teachings of Jesus… and the Old Testament come to think of it. It’s cozy and comfortable, but no challenge or change.

What we need are the colors in balance. Each color offering its gifts and helping us become a healthy community that communicates well. Each color helps form us.

Yellows are gifted with the big picture, conceptual thinking. They are concerned with the “why” of any given situation. They want innovation and novelty.

Greens are gifted with process and organization. They are concerned with the “when” of any given situation. They want a plan and a detailed one, thank you.

Blues are gifted with problem-solving and critique. They are concerned with the “what” of any given situation. They seek to find the goal and the most efficient way to reach the goal.

Reds are gifted with emotional health. They are concerned with the “who” of any given situation. They seek to make sure all are welcome, included, and loved.

To be the healthiest organization we can be, we need to go in that order. The Yellows give us the idea. The Greens ground the idea and put meat on the bones. The Blues give us the data and goals to make sure we’re going in the right direction. And the Reds say “This is how it makes us a better, more loving community.”

If we think of it like a car, Yellows are the drivers. They see where we’re going. Greens are the engine and the wheels. The Blues are the dashboard instruments giving us data. And the Reds are the added features, the heating, air conditioning, and leather interior.

The church is best when it’s in motion. When there’s energy and drive and a sense of journey. Many churches have become too content and are in park. Do you see these great buildings? I tell you not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.

The idea is to become more like Christ. All of our programs should move us in that direction. If we’re not more like Christ from being on a team, committee, or going to a Bible study, then we reform it or end it. We’ll be better together for it.

This associate pastor position is a risk. It is a change. You have had other associates before. I haven’t. I used to be the associate. I think I have some insight on what makes a good associate/senior relationship. This new person will focus on Youth and Mission so we have our goals, and we’ll be a better community for it. We need the goals and process around the idea. We also need to make sure this person is hitting the goals we set for the position and is a good fit with our staff and our community.

It’s a risk… but it’s also an investment like Crell Johns said at council. It’s an investment in the future of our community. I see this place full of youth and mission programs. I see our hallway downstairs, with rooms 7,8, 9-10 down to the nursery being our youth hang out. Our kids gather and are making YouTube content to further our faith formation. They learn Bible stories by acting them out, as that’s how many kids learn.

I see Habitat Homes being built. People being fed. I see bread being baked again by our seniors and youth and delivered by our high school drivers. I see a place where all generations can share their stories freely. Saying this is who God has gifted me to be and those gifts are used for the common good. People who are feeling lost are found. People who have been hurt find healing. People without a purpose find it.

We’re doing this not because we have made an idol of our building or I need to drive a Rolls Royce or to maintain a doctrinal structure… no. Those stones are being thrown down. We’re doing this for the health of our community. God’s economy is about neighborliness. We will be the living counter-narrative to the division. When someone says, “Oh, I hate people from this political party.” We can say, “Here’s a list of names of people I love who belong to that party. They go to my church.”

When someone says, “Jesus is the only way or you’re going to hell.” We can say, “We pray well with others. Here’s a list of names of people we love who belong to another religion or none at all.”

When someone says, “Why do we need to be accessible, are we going through another remodel?” We can say, “We want to make sure all are welcome and our physical plant is easily navigated by those who have mobility issues. Because here’s a list of names of people who we love…”

We welcome all to share their stories with ours. We know that if we start with the humanity, we’ll be surprised by the divinity.

It’s hard to hate someone when you regard them as a neighbor. We’re not doing this because it comes naturally either. We’ll need help. I need help. These concepts are compelling. I love them. I seek to live them out here and become that place in Medina for the next 200 years that welcomes, loves and serves boldly. But I need help.

I need your help. The staff needs your help. I remember in my intern church in Pennsylvania, the pastor had a vision. She had preached an idea to the congregation that got them excited, but the Council got scared. The president of the council said to the pastor, “This is a big project you’re looking to do. You have to remember, we’re volunteers.” I could tell they were hedging their bet. They saw what needed to be done, and they were intimidated.

She said, “I hate to inform you… there are no volunteers here. We are the church. We don’t have to do this all at once, but this is the direction the Holy Spirit seems to be sending us in. We as the church have to follow that direction.”

When I look out, I get so inspired. I see faces I love. I see faces I can’t wait to get to know. I think you’re feeling the same thing. For those of you watching at home or listening on the podcast, I’m so thankful for you and how you’re being the church still by showing up digitally and reaching out.

We are in motion. We are heading in a direction of growth and what we are building is a place that raises compassionate, thinking Christians deeply grounded in the conviction that Christ’s way of welcome, love, and service is the best way.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of what you will give of your time, talent, and treasure in the building of our future. Thank you for all the ways you have been the church over these many strange months. Thank you, church; for being you. Amen.

Works Cited

[1][1] Take this Bread page 114.

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