Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Playing church

Stacey and I are headed up to Lake Junaluska tomorrow for the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, the quadrennial meeting at which business is done and bishops are elected. Neither of us are delegates, of course, and I no longer work for a jurisdictional agency. We've had a couple of folks ask us why, considering we have no business at Junaluska, we plan to go.

I think my answer is this: we have busted it the last few days, working ahead and preparing to travel, because it is important to see the church at work. Yes, most church work happens in the local church, which is the chief vehicle for disciple-building. I wish we talked more about the local church in those big expensive meetings, too. But while I am not so silly to think that the church only works at big denominational meetings, I am also not so naive to pretend that these meetings are not important, that a God-something does not happen there. After all, if we do not believe God is actually at work in our deliberation, in our elections, in our consecrations, then what are we doing besides playing church?

I am fascinated by church business for the same reason I am fascinated by politics: because it matters. The decisions we make have significance far beyond the moment of decision. It is not that these things are only important in and of themselves. The business matters because it changes the course of what is to come. It is important to see God at work, to be a witness. After all, if you have not seen, how can you witness?

So I will geek out a bit this week, but more than this, I'll be in prayer. I hope you will be too. For it is not the meeting that matters, but what comes after, for God's church is bigger than one meeting, and Sunday is coming.

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