Thursday, August 7, 2014

Seeking Transformation

A few years ago I worked with a church member who was considering the nature of the church business.  He would say things like, "Really it is a business, isn't it?"  His point was that there is some number crunching.  There is a cost to doing business and there is a need for income to meet that cost.

His point is made more pointedly by the reality that many pastors, myself included, look to business leadership concepts and books on organizational leadership for ideas on how to keep an organization (the church in our case) moving forward. In many ways this is important work, and I value much of what I have learned from such reading.  But there is a pitfall into the church just becoming another business.  For me, the very idea of the church being just another business causes the taste of burnout (Thanks Denise for you post on Burnout) to rise like acid re-flux.
I've been spending some time recalling the purpose of ministry in the church recently.  It isn't a new concept, but I for one need occasional reminders:

Lives being transformed is at the core of what we do.

This is why I went into ministry.  Not only to be a part of lives being transformed, but because my own life continues to be in need of transformation.  The desire for our own transformation and the transformation of our neighbors and  the world around us gives purpose and shape to what we do.

Stephen Foul, in Engaging Scripture, identifies the acknowledgement of a need for transformation as key in being able to read scripture properly.  
If Christians are to read and embody scripture in ways that result in loves lived faithfully before God, they will need to recognize themselves as sinners.  Moreover, they will need to train and form new members so that they, too, can identify themselves in this way.  
 To allow the concept of sinfulness to shape our reading of scripture and Christian experience feels very old-hat; but it is something that is easily forgotten and even rejected as archaic.  But we cannot expect transformation if we do not understand our need for change (trans) or being formed (formation).  We will soon be inviting members of St. Paul's to share stories of transformation in your own life--how is God moving in your life?  What kinds of changes have happened or are happening that are making your more Christ-like, more faithful to God's call on your life, more in tune with your relationship with God?


  1. Thank you for this useful post.

  2. Very interesting. I think part of what is wrong with many churches today, including ours at times, is that many people don't see the need for transformation in themselves. It's amazing that you, our spiritual leader, admit that even you are in need. We all should be so self-aware.