Changing Times, Changing Ministry, Same Community, Same Jesus
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6a
We can count on change. I remember reading about chaos in the 1990’s, well before this pandemic, and it rang true with me then and ever since that we can count on change. Change can bring loss, but opportunity too. While some change comes with great loss and deep grief, not all change is bad, and it really can depend on how we engage with it. Often, change can be good and necessary.
I have to say, I am very proud of Emmanuel Lutheran Church working through change and to make change happen for the good. When I first came to ELC, the leadership had all been reading a book about change for the sake of ministry, and I was impressed that the congregation was so earnest in their willingness to make necessary changes in ministry to move forward. Many congregations yearn for that kind of change and give it lip service, but it simply does not happen. Emmanuel has made changes in stewardship, evangelism, staffing, programs and more, and we will continue to so that we can pursue our mission for Jesus to share our faith in a multicultural world.
Some of the changes we have made, and will continue to make, have been issues of disagreement, of course, but most all have had overwhelming support by the Emmanuel community. That is key. In the midst of all the change we must make along the way, we might not exactly agree on all of it, but we do stick together. The way we worship, the times we worship, how we do faith formation, youth ministry, outreach, mission, finances—all these things can change. However, our relationships and our community remain the same due to the commitment we have in this ministry together. Oh sure, the Spirit will lead people to us and away on new paths, but our relationships are at the heart of our ministry, and we can count on that.
The heart of our ministry was, is, and always will be Jesus, the same Jesus. All kinds of other things will change and eventually will need to, but our relationship with Jesus will remain the same. He is our savior. He loves us and we love him. His ways are our ways. His mission is our mission, and that will guide us through all the changes we must face, not with fear, but with grace.
In this season of giving thanks, I give thanks for change that challenges us. I give thanks for a congregation that embraces change and leads through it. I give thanks for the Emmanuel community that keeps us all strong in relationships through the changes. And, as always, I give thanks to God for Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life for us all!
Pastor Tony Prinsen