I just love this time of year, where there are a host of colors vividly filling the landscape throughout the Central District. I love that this color display is a tangible witness to a shift in season from Summer to Fall. I would suggest that most of us appreciate these vibrant colors and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation throughout this season.
I often reflect as to why it is far easier for us, as humanity, to embrace the change of seasons in nature, but it is far more difficult to be as receptive and embracing to the change of seasons that occur in the life of congregations. There are tangible pieces of evidence that a change of season is occurring, but so often it comes with resistance or avoidance. As in creation, we never know when the shift occurs, but when it does we embrace and enjoy it. Likewise, in the life of ministry, we can see the “handwriting on the wall” and yet we choose not to do something about it or even acknowledge that help is needed. This often begs the questions…”Would God be pleased with our witness?”
This is why I am excited for our upcoming opportunity to be in conversation with students at the University of Indianapolis (UIndy), as we welcome Bishop Trimble to the Central District on Wednesday, November 13 from 11:30a-1:30p. On that day, the students of UIndy will be the teachers for us all, in a moderated discussion under the theme, “Dear Church People”. We will hear from the hearts and mouths of Emerging Leaders who will share that to engage them in ministry is beyond the loud music and skinny jeans. They will share that we lament about not having them in our congregations, and yet we do not provide welcoming environments or relevant engagements. This “Chat and Chew” is free and open to all laity, clergy, and those who are curious to join us. Please follow this link, as we invite all who intend to attend to sign up so that we can properly accommodate and be a good steward of the resources.
Throughout this last week, I have been in conversations with thought leaders and innovative dreamers around this understanding of congregational life. Through these conversations, I have concluded that the way for which we engage in the life of ministry must experience a change of season, or we may be the cause of our own discontinuances. Perhaps ministry, in our current context and societal climate, is moving from the mere number of ministry programs to ministry that is intentionally relational and returns to the foundational roots as is found from reading about the Early Church.
Yes, the cultural landscape is changing for the Church, but the message of Jesus Christ is unchanging and highly pertinent. May we embrace these changing of seasons with prayerful consideration, joyful obedience, and an intentional willingness to move beyond ourselves for the sake of others? Friends, the season is changing…are you ready?
Dr. Aleze Fulbright
Conference Superintendent Serving Central District