Our faith is grounded in the idea of letting go to make room for growth. Warren Schutz observes (Temporary Shepherds-A Congregational Handbook for Ministry, p. 121) that the Christian faith is built upon the following pattern:
- Change: The inevitable movement of life’s forces
- Transition: The process by which we must deal with the inevitable changes of life
- Transformation: The new shape that occurs after transition, toward which change is aimed.
Our congregations are sometimes resistant to change and leaving behind familiar things. Yet the core story of our faith is about life, then death, then new life through resurrection. The arc of this narrative is the foundation of our faith.
To deny change and reject transition is to close the door on transformation. Followers of the living, dying, rising Christ—of all people—are well equipped to move through this cycle with hope and anticipation about the next new thing God will do. We believe that God is in the change.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you
not perceive it?
I am making a way in the
and steams in the
wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
We are all about the new stuff God is doing. Inevitably that means leaving some of the old stuff behind: letting go to letting grow.
Jim Kelsey-Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of New York State