Pastor Advises To Be Inspired By Others To Do Something New -- And Maybe Uncomfortable
Rev. Sarah Weaver, pastor of Rehoboth Congregational Church, recently revealed that she draws a lot of inspiration from these Spotlight stories emailed monthly by the Massachusetts Conference.
“Even if I only have time to skim them, I love that they are tangible examples of what is working in churches in our conference,” she wrote. “It's not theoretical, it's practical and I LOVE to see other churches are not only surviving, but thriving and being authentic to who they are and who God is calling them to be. I rarely read them and think, ‘Oh we need to do that exact thing,’ but I usually get an adrenaline rush and think, ‘Okay, what's next for us that WE can get excited about?’”
In the spirit of imparting ideas to others, Weaver agreed to share a portion of her most recent blog, Preaching in Pumps, that addresses how churches should be ‘comfortably uncomfortable.‘
“I get so many great ideas from other people, the least I can do is share what comes to me,” she said.
This particular article stemmed from someone at the Rehoboth church forgetting to order those little cups used during communion. Because of that slipup, communion was served by intinction, which caused a conversation among members about whether or not people are comfortable with intinction. Weaver thought it was good time to think about how it’s easier said than done to be comfortably uncomfortable and wrote about it in her blog.
Here’s a portion of the article:
People do not like to be uncomfortable. They like to know what is coming next. They like their traditions to be predictable and their spaces to look or feel a certain way.
We do this in the church all the time. We worship a certain way, we arrange our flowers a certain way, we set up our sanctuary and our narthex a certain way and we do not want those things to change. We have the same events, year after year. We have traditions that we hold fast to. We often do not want to try something new because sometimes it is hard to picture something that we have never done before. Many of us are so accustomed to the way we do church here that we cannot imagine doing church any other way.
But guess what? Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. He broke tradition; he did something that had never been done before, something that made the Pharisees uncomfortable.
And in the end, a man was healed. Shouldn’t that have been the goal all along?
God’s grace is kind of a funny thing sometimes.
My point is this: It is okay to be a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. It is okay to try something new. It is okay to do something that has never been done before, even if that means stepping onto a path that has never been traveled on. It is okay to walk away, even if it is just for a moment, from the rituals and traditions that we do by rote and see what else God is calling us to do in this moment.
Friends, I have talked a lot about doing church lately. And sometimes doing church means being comfortably uncomfortable. It means being willing to compromise so that everyone feels like their voice has been heard and that their opinion is valued. It means not immediately dismissing something just because it is different and actively listening to new ideas. It means healing someone on the Sabbath because they are sick and serving someone holy bread because they are hungry. It means listening to God’s still speaking voice guiding us along a journey that is filled with a grace and love that will exceed even our wildest imaginations.
So do not be afraid to be comfortably uncomfortable. Push your boundaries. Stretch yourself. Try something new. And be amazed at God’s potential within our community. As a church, we can and will do great things.
And we may find that, along the way, people will be healed, people will be fed and people will be made whole.
The uncomfortableness of change is a common concern among many Conference churches, especially those like the Rehoboth church, which have been around for hundreds of years. With such a long history, there was probably some ‘uncomfortableness’ in the church when it decided to hold an annual “Beatles Sunday’ -- a worship service that combined traditional elements of worship with popular Beatles tunes.
But how uncommon is it to have someone exclaim “I can't wait !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” in response to a Facebook announcement of an upcoming church service, or to have the pews filled on a summer Sunday morning. (See the comment and full church picture on the church Facebook page.)
“As it states in our Conference Together, As One Vision, Mission & Purpose Statement, we believe God calls us to bring new life as agents of change and so we embrace and encourage adaptive and transformative leadership wherever the Body of Christ is gathered,” said Associate Conference Minister for the Southeast the Rev. Dr. Patty Kogut. “This Rehoboth church is embracing change, even though it may be uncomfortable.”
To get inspired to try new things, try reading some of the previous Spotlight stories that have been published in the past.
Rev. Weaver can be reached at the church office at 508-252-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read the full article, and other articles in Weaver’s blog here: Preaching in Pumps.