January 10, 2012

Growth.

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I have an abundance of clothes in my closet. Some articles I rarely wear, but most get exposure fairly frequently. This could be due to my recurrent wardrobe changes throughout the day that rival the dresses of the stars during the Oscars. These harmless apparel variations can make one day feel like two, three, or even four.
Change is constantly going on in every area of life.
The changing of the seasons…leaves that fade from green to orange, dead to gone, and mysteriously back again after a few snows and rains.
Other changes take place even slower.
A baby gets bigger, growing and developing until the day his parents have finally seen him go through every milestone found in their parenting books.
Change can happen whether it is intentional or not. Growth, on the other hand, often involves a degree of intentionality. Some changes are destructive, but the best kind of change is growth. Most change, especially when it is a growing sort of change, involves a degree of discomfort.
Any third grader can vividly describe the burning ache of growing pains that surge through his arms and legs.
At the same time, growth should be celebrated.
Candles and presents for birthdays mark each year of life.
Diplomas and gifts at graduations honor intellectual and educational progress.
Still, through the exciting celebrations and uncomfortable pain, there is a sense of loss.
Students move on to new places—different phases of life: more education, jobs, families, new friends, different mentors. Teachers lose their daily interactions with those particular students.
However, the void does not go unfilled. New students sit in the briefly empty desks. Graduates become accustomed to the new venues of life.
Just as every life transition involves celebration, pain, and loss, the church is not immune to these emotionally draining facets of growth.
When a small group reaches a certain number of people—a split must occur to preserve intimacy: the central point of the small group in the first place.
When the Sunday morning gathering numbers swell to the point of requiring multiple services, loss transpires. People no longer have the guarantee of seeing their entire spectrum of church friends each week.
Yet growth continues. New people come. Collectively, the comfort and security of “how things used to be” has to be released. “Community” is tightly held and protected, rather than freely given to those recently entering the group.
Rather than holding the sense of community that has developed so close to our hearts that it can’t be shared, it must be freely offered to others. If it really is as wonderful as it is claimed it to be, there must be a willingness to give it away.
And as growth continues, the mourning of loss will inevitably continue.
But the celebrations are also present. Celebrate when a previously unconnected young adult becomes committed to a small group—a place where they are able to find true friendship and learn to be more like Jesus. Celebrate when strides are made in the continual struggle of learning to love the people who don't seem to fit in, which ultimately glorifies Christ. Celebrate in the growth of community—not only numerically, but in depth…when it is evident that Jesus is present and young adults are navigating their growing relationship with him.  

2 comments:

  1. Very good! This is so true. A few members of Lebanon made a comment upon hearing how much debt we have and that we're leaving that they hadn't thought what would happen if they were to die. Many of them didn't realize how serious the situation was nor had they thought past the week to week tithing and Sunday School service. We all need remember to share our community of faith and grow it not preserve it. Museums are only beneficial if new visitors can come learn from the history.

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  2. Very true! I miss you, love. :)

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