To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
It's something that the pastors and elders have been thinking and praying about in earnest over the last year. We have been meeting regularly, reviewing our core convictions, looking closely at the ministries of our church family, revisiting our priorities, discussing the changing state of our city and mission field, and praying for direction on how to steward all that God has placed within our care and responsibility.
These efforts have affirmed and strengthened our resolve to fulfill an unchanging purpose and mission: Calvary exists to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. Further, we will hold fast to our values of each Calvary family member wholly committed, in every area of life, to ‘living on mission,’ in the confident hope that we will help believers and not-yet-believers ‘move one step closer to the right’ toward Jesus and his kingdom.
Thus, we want to be clear: What we are about has not changed. Nor will it.
But— we do believe that how we fulfill our mission (and values) will change. For we have further resolved that God is calling us to do all we can to position Calvary in a way that she will be a growing and healthy outpost of the kingdom, for the glory of God and the joy of the people of our city, and beyond. In order for that to happen, how we do things must always be flexible in response to the culture around us. This has long been a foundational tenet in the field of missions, and applies to us, just as much as to someone serving in China, Morocco, or Indonesia.
So we invite you to a special service—“We Are Calvary”—on Sunday, 14 October, where our leadership team will share some initial changes coming to Calvary. And let’s be honest right here: we understand that while some people love change, change isn’t easy for most of us. Therefore, it will be helpful for some of you to understand this isn’t a massive overhaul of who we are, but steps toward better aligning our resources to our mission, values, and priorities to position us for growth and health.
I have a picture on my study wall of the first and second pastors of this church, who had a vision over 135 years ago, to reach St. Cloud and this area for Jesus. I keep it there to remind me that the reason we are here, is because they were there. And while so much has changed both inside and outside our church over 13 decades, I am confident that all who have been a part of this place could stand together and say, “We Are Calvary.”
Filled with hope for our future,
on behalf of all our pastors and elders,
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.