As the summer season turns its face towards fall, here at Peace we find ourselves entering a season of significant transition. Clearly there are changes afoot, accompanied by uncertainty and anxiety, as well as perhaps some relief that we are finally addressing our financial issues head on. Woven in and around these feelings, I also sense deep longings for a future that involves spiritual vitality and creative risks that might lead us to a place of renewed mission.
One thing is clear to me. The path of discerning our core congregational mission must involve immersing ourselves in what some church leaders call the Three Great Listenings.
• Listening to God:
Through intentional scriptural reflection and prayer we remember together who and whose we are, grounding us in our identity as the Body of Christ. We must purposefully engage in opportunities to nurture this deep listening both personally and communally, returning to this core spiritual practice throughout our discernment process.
• Listening to Our Neighbor:
Through intentional encounters with local neighbors, community leaders and key organizations, we will seek to understand the challenges, needs, desires, questions and spiritual perspectives of those around us. We will seek to discover what God is already up to in people’s lives, to achieve a clearer understanding of the particular context of the greater Stillaguamish valley.
• Listening to Each Other:
Through intentional conversations to reflect on what we are learning, we will consider how our gifts and assets might enable us to witness to the gospel in word and action. Together we seek to focus and clarify our purpose at this time in our congregational history.
God’s call to mission is not generic, but specific and particular. Guided by and rooted in the Spirit, we seek to discover where our identity, context and purpose intersect and where that understanding might lead us to the specific steps we as Peace Lutheran are called to take to pursue our particular Christian mission in this time and place.
Are you ready for some intentional listening together? Stay tuned for a shared congregational opportunity during the month of October. You are also invited to consider joining me at an upcoming workshop offered by the synod on Saturday, September 28th: Listening Leadership.
Blessings on our shared journey,
(Resource: Pathway to Renewal, Daniel Smith and Mary Sellon)