I'm at Missouri Ministers' School this week.
Tim Keel said this afternoon that we worship our ministries, and the way he said it was basically saying we are guilty of idolatry. His point was that we attach so much importance to the programs that they become the most important thing, far more important that the faith they are supposed to nurture, not to mention the God they are supposed to serve.
Congregations spend (waste) a lot of time trying to put programs into place rather than allowing things to come up from within the people. It seems like we see the "success" of a congregation and immediately try to emulate it in our own context. Not emulate - duplicate. So we say that what we need here is such-and-such a program and then we bring in someone to do it and try to make it fit our context.
Does your congregation worship it's ministries? Have the things you do become more important than what you are?
That's not to say that we cannot learn from other congregations. We need to hear the stories of other congregations, if not to simply do what they do, then to understand how they do what they do and grow from that. We are connectional; collaborative. Tim Keel's word is "postures." We adopt postures toward life, and it is these postures which we can learn from others.
If we adopt a "posture of availability," we set the stage for the work of the Holy Spirit in a way that is impossible if we try to artficially impose a program or a ministry from another place onto our context. The trick is to stay open, stay "available," stay on the lookout for where God might me moving next, and remember that it might very well be in our midst.
There was more to Tim's presentation, but that idea really caught my attention. Tomorrow we hear from Robert Martin from Saint Paul School of Theology and Craig Miller from the General Board of Discipleship. I'll write more later about what they have to say.