Tuesday, March 24, 2009

100 Years Celebration = Buildings?

Something this week triggered a sad realization I had at Annual Conference this past year. Tired of sitting in a so called air conditioned Stewart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, I moved over to the truly air conditioned Terrace Hotel to watch the business via closed circuit TV. There I watched the part of conference where the churches celebrating milestones are recognized. Those congregations who are now 100 years old, 150, even 250 were all paraded out and celebrated.

What was sad was what was celebrated. As the announcer read off each church they gave a quick history of the congregation. Here is how many of them went, "First UMC started in 1908 on the corner of First St. and Main St. in Anytown, NC. The sanctuary was completed in 1910 and a new education building was added in 1915. In 1963 an addition as added to the educational wing to add classrooms and office space..."

The celebration really only included talk of buildings. It made me ask the question, "Is this all we will be remembered for, building buildings?" I don't remember hearing anything about lives being touched, mission projects being done, people helped, or souls transformed. Nothing about the church being The Church, just buildings.

I think the RETHINK Church video that is going around has some wonderful things to say about church being The Church once again. In a little over a decade my congregation will celebrate its 100th year. I will have moved on to another appointment (probably) and I wonder how this church will be remembered. Will we be remembered by the buildings we built or the lives that we touched? The bricks we put up or the souls that were transformed?

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