Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Excitement of New!

Pastor Keith and the staff that "fit" perfectly marched into the Middleberry neighborhood ready to take on all comers.  The congregants of Middleberry were excited as well.  They were excited for two reasons:

(1) As I mentioned earlier the split (I'm sorry, the "plant" as they would like to call it) couldn't have come soon enough.  The young pastor at GracePoint had caused much resentment amongst those who founded Middleberry.  It all began when those at Middleberry still worshipped at GracePoint.

A few years back, GracePoint was coming out of a period of poor leadership from their Senior Pastor position.  Men had attempted to lead the Church who were either under-qualified; immoral; or interim pastors.  These men were unable to lead the large chuch of GracePoint effectively.  The eldership stepped in and set a vision for the future of GracePoint.  Two men felt qualified for the position: Pastor Keith and a young pastor who had grown up in the congregation and was currently serving a youth ministry in another state.  With Pastor Keith there was a great amount of experience and a long-term realtionship; with the young pastor came fresh ideas and a change for the future.

The eldership of GracePoint racked their brains.  Had the positions been open for both men to come on staff the decision would have been simple; however, the church needed one man to lead them into the next phase of their existence.  The elders made a difficult call informing their associate pastor for years, Pastor Keith, that he would have to wait to lead a church.  The elders chose the young Pastor from out of state.

This decision did not sit well with many in the congregation of GracePoint.  So many were poured into by Keith during his time as their youth pastor.  Others had grown in their relationship with him as he was the associate pastor in charge of discipleship.  Keith had grown up with many of these people and they were staunchly devoted to him.

With the introduction of the new Pastor at GracePoint came changes throughout the church.  What was asked of the congregation was stepped up.  What was expected of members and how things were organized changed the way GracePoint operated.  Support staff was realigned, leadership was called on the carpet and a vision for the future was instated which called for excellence and a new building! Pastor Keith was asked to grasp the vision set forth, but he desperately wanted to keep the status quo.  "It had been working for 15 years..." was the thought that kept running through Keith's mind.  He wanted nothing to do with this new vision, he wanted his sunday school class.  Pastor Keith had begun the search for a new congregation to serve when the idea for Middleberry came across his desk.

When Pastor Keith was given the opportunity to lead Middleberry, this disgruntled faction of the church that was loyal to him followed.  The phrases, "Come to Middleberry, we're like the Old GracePoint!", or "Middleberry is what GracePoint used to be!" became the rallying cry of this congregation.  So the people of Middleberry were glad to be worshipping anywhere but at GracePoint...that is one reason they were excited.  The other:

(2)  The church of Middleberry was the new game in town.  Their first event was a smash hit.  There were people coming from everywhere to see this new Church in the middle of town.  The people of Middleberry Church viewed this as the stamp of God's approval on them.  They have successfully brought the religion of suburbia into the center of the city. The next couple events would have the same success.  But while the leadership and staff of Middleberry celebrated the additions, they refused to see the revolving door that was happening at the back.  They were losing these people as quickly as they came in.  The revolving back door of Middleberry was a massive problem that the celebration masked and they would not let that rain on their parade!

This new body of believers at Middleberry Church were excited to be somewhere other than GracePoint and they were excited to be welcomed into the community by all the needs there.  But the welcome would eventually wear out and the newness would wear off, and we shall soon see the shallowness with which the community surrounding Middleberry was offered would crumble beneath them.   The old adage "What you win them with, you win them too" adequately explains the conundrum with which Middleberry was walking into!

No comments:

Post a Comment