Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he (Jesus) said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" Matthew 14:28-30
This month marks a year since we began having two worship services on Sunday mornings. We began the two services in hopes that offering an alternate worship time would bring about an increase in worship attendance. Unfortunately the hope of increase in worship attendance has not come from an early worship service, but from our late worship service. Therefore, on Sunday, September 14th the worship committee met to discuss a variety of things. One of the biggest take away ideas we had was that in almost a year of having two services, the early service has been a convenience for some, but in reality has not borne the fruit the worship committee nor I desired in bringing more people into Grace UMC. However, the late service at 11 a.m. has been the service in which we have witnessed 1st guests, returning of 1st time guests, baptisms, and the joining of new members. As this conversation continued we circled back to the perception of many at Grace who feel as if we have become divided with two services. In addition to feeling divided, we discussed the feeling of burnout from our worship team and audio visual team.
As we, the worship committee, continued in this discussion a motion was made to return to one service at 11 a.m. with Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. beginning Sunday, October 5th. Further, the worship committee felt it best for us to continue in our current worship style with the flexibility to offer special music as often as possible of a choir/ensemble. After these motions were made the worship committee passed the motion unanimously. The worship committee then took this motion to church council to seek guidance on the motion. Upon Church Council hearing the motion, they too passed unanimously the motion, believing this is a great decision for Grace.
After all of these motions and decisions became final, if I am honest, I felt somewhat as a failure. However, as I continued in prayer and thought of this situation I came to the above verse from Matthew's Gospel. Often times we read this story of Peter walking on water, and we automatically jump to the fact that he began to sink as he took his eyes off of Jesus. Let us not jump to quickly to that part of the story, let us truly enjoy the seemingly impossible that Peter did, he walked on water! Other than Jesus, Peter is the only other person recorded in human history to have done this. Peter was not a failure, he was willing to try what some say is impossible, and true it did not work out the way he likely desired, but Peter was willing to try.
In my years of working in the church and being a pastor I have learned that only growing and healthy organizations are willing to take risks in order to improve themselves. As well, in taking risks there are seemingly more 'failed' attempts than 'walk on the water' moments, however if we never take risks we can rest assured we will never walk on water. So here we are, a year later after beginning two services, returning to one service at the 11 a.m. hour. Again we are experiencing a change at Grace UMC. Let us not be sidetracked by changes, but realize this principle I read earlier this week in one of our church members Facebook post on changing churches, "Churches are always changing, only the dead one's don't… Churches are always in a state of change if they are alive."
Change can be a scary thing, let me assure you all, change scares me too. As your pastor, I am convinced if we as a church truly desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, then we must continue to take risks and experience change together so that we may be the church God has called us to be. What kind of church is that you ask? A church that is so expansive with energy that even the gates of hell cannot defeat it. A church that has the ability and power to walk on the water. Grace UMC, as we take risks and experience change together, I realize more daily how blessed I am to be called your pastor and minister with you. Let us walk on water!