As you look ahead to the future, here are ten things I hope for you.
1. I hope you will read and share the Bible stories. Read the familiar ones and the not-so-familiar ones. Talk about them. Ask questions about them. Teach them to the kids. Those are the stories that hold the good news. Don’t lose them.
2. I hope you will keep coming to church. It’ll be tempting, in this transition time, to just drift away, or to put churchgoing on hold until you have a new minister. Please don’t do that. Come to worship. Participate in a Bible study or a book group. Volunteer to set up for coffee hour. Keep donating food for the food pantry. The strength of a congregation is not in the minister but in the participation of the people.
3. I hope you will not be afraid. In the Bible, every time God shows up and asks someone to do something, the request is prefaced with the reminder not to fear. I don’t know what the future holds for First Christian, but I do know that God will be with you.
4. I hope you will be bold. Our times call for brave voices and courageous actions. (See also #3).
5. I hope you will dream big. When you are listening for God’s call for the next phase of your life together, don’t underestimate what you can do.
6. I hope you will practice abundance. We live in a culture that convinces us we need more of everything. But that’s not true. You have enough money and enough people and enough time to do the work God is calling you to do. In the words of the great Wendell Berry, what you need is here.
7. I hope you will support the region and the denomination. We’re stronger together, so keep participating in regional activities. Send kids to camp. Give financially to the region and to the Disciples Mission Fund. Be part of the “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” The wider church needs you.
8. I hope you will be patient with the process. Finding a new minister takes a long time. Your search committee will be working hard, sometimes behind the scenes. Support them, give them input when they ask for it, and pray for them.
9. I hope you will show as much grace to your next minister as you have to me. She or he won’t be perfect either.
10. I hope the next ten years will be as full of laughter and grace, shared celebrations and sorrows, as the last ten have been. I hope you will keep on doing the all the ordinary and miraculous tasks of being the church. It will change the world.
Thank you for an amazing ten years, First Christian. It’s been a joy.