The New Year is often a time of turning pages in life, between reflecting on past chapters and finding meaning to guide writing the next. As Christians, we seek guidance from Scripture and prayer. But seeking inspiration is not just a solitary activity. In the context of a church congregation, it is a community job.
When we think about the life of a congregation and the experiences that bond its members, the highlights might come to mind: the moving sermon, the effective outreach, and the festive gathering. There are also the comforting aspects of participating in history, sharing in sacraments like 2,000 years of Christians before us. Ease comes from sharing in the service with the members of one’s community for so many years that you know the identity of the person in front of you without seeing their face, as their form and gait are so familiar. Yet there may be other experiences that bond a congregation: witnessing traumatic events; experiencing loss or injustice; maybe even just growing old together.
Each person in that church, whether ordained or not, impacts the community’s life. That may be by getting involved or walking away. It may be by showing up ready to welcome all, or by bearing hurts from the world. One may come for succor, and another to support. All are children of God and bear gifts to be nurtured and shared. During times of stability, one set of people’s gifts may come to the fore. Times of change can be stressful to the status quo but may also be an opportunity to develop the gifts of others. When things are calm sometimes the practice of listening stagnates. Change invites us to re-open our ears and hearts to those around us. Each person can offer insights into the prophetic voice of the community as the fresh pages of tomorrow are considered and words weighed.
Sometimes, hearing the truth from others is hard, especially where there is hurt or guilt. Sometimes, those normally involved in leadership are too close to the challenge, and for healing to happen a consultant must be brought in. This is the forte of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. We are not here to tell you what you should do but to create a safe space where substance and inspiration can be discerned to write new chapters that are not hampered by unfinished storylines of the past. Peace in community settings is a gift we give each other by listening to, respecting, understanding, and seeing the potential in each other as we face new situations in life. Meaning develops between members until the suitable words flow, speaking for the community from its prophetic heart. If you seek a coach to support hearing your community voice, we are here.