"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Parish development: if you build it they will come.

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When we built for the right reasons, we find God; and when we built for the wrong reasons, we find only ourselves.

The time comes in every parish’s life when the question of parish development arises. Stated another way the question is should we built, should we expand, is at the right time to build a new church and, or a new hall? It is very comfortable for us to approach this question as a question of business management. And so we proceed, developing a business plan, looking at cash flow, studying the demographics of our community your neighbourhood, and discussing long-range financial planning.

It is comfortable for us to approach the question this way because we’re dealing with things concrete, like budgets, engineering plans, all things that we can physically pick up in our hands and look at. We are physical creatures tied to physical world and so things physical feel safe. Developing a well thought out business plan or budgets helps to convince us that we are the ones in control of our world. The reality is of course that God is a wanted control. The more challenging question, and far less comfortable, is what does God want to parish to do?

God continually calls to us to move from the comfortable of this world to the discomfort of his world. This is not to say that plans and budgets are not important but they are only at best needs to accomplish what God calls us to do. If we treat parish development as merely an opportunity to expand or from the perspective of business case alone, all we will find out of the exercise is the limits of our own minds. If we pursue such planning in obedience God’s call to develop, we will find God.

And so question of parish development is not merely a question of rocks and lumber and concrete but is first and foremost a question of discernment. Through prayer and listening to God’s still silent voice we will achieve not only parish development but also spiritual development. The undertaking of new construction should not only be an opportunity for the physical creatures to demonstrate our authority or control over the physical world but rather a chance for us to seek greater spiritual maturity through the mechanism of building.

So it may be true that’s your parish is at capacity for Sunday attendance. Or that a church hall will allow you to reach out into the community a new ways. Or that’s an older building without proper drainage needs waterproofing and weeping tiles installed to maintain a proper space for the community gather. The first step in this process is to ask God for his will for your parish.

At times seeking God’s will for the parish will seem contrary to common sense. In Alberta’s dynamic building market a delayed even months can result in huge cost increases and so there’s always the pressure to proceed as quickly as possible. This act, turning to God for guidance, is what we’re call to do as Christians. It is the hallmark that sets us apart from the greater culture. In spite of the wisdom of the world to which says move quickly, strike while the iron is hot, Carpe Diem; the wisdom of God says that we proceed in his good time.

The building process beginning with the question of whether or not we should built is therefore first a spiritual task and only after God’s leading is found to visit become a physical task. This is not meet that we should not to undertake the physical tasks in parallel with our discernment it means that our focus must always be on God and only secondly on things of this world.

When your parish puts out the call for members of a building committee is important to include those who have specific knowledge that will need to task: carpenters, builders, engineers, and anyone handy with the task of hanging drywall. Do not forget to also include those who will pray for the process, who will ask for God’s leading, and will keep the journey to new construction focused on the spiritual.

When we build because God is calling us to build, we will find God: when we built only because we think it is a good idea, we will find only ourselves.


Written by sameo416

June 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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