Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Dreams, Building Transformations

Tonight we are likely to have the kind of church council meeting that I dread.  We will likely talk about how our income is nowhere close to matching our outflow of cash.

I suspect that these conversations are not uncommon in churches across the land.  But oh, how I am weary of this conversation.

Our situation may feel more acute because we've just finalized a loan so that we can take care of building repairs (the roof, the AC, some parking lot issues).  Instead of rejoicing that the money is in the bank and work can begin, we are feeling a bit of panic because now we must repay the loan.

As a woman who did a lot of the work to get us the loan (e-mails, phone calls, e-mails, photocopying documents, e-mails, more phone calls, e-mails, filing paperwork at the Broward county office, and yet more e-mails), I'd like to spend a bit more time in gratitude before we move to panic.

Or maybe we just skip the panic please.  Do we trust in the Holy Spirit or don't we?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not sure I do.  Wait, let me clarify.  I'm not sure I trust in the Holy Spirit to send us money to pay the bills.  In my quieter moments when I'm not doing tasks to finalize a loan, I'm wondering if the Holy Spirit isn't telling us something that most of us don't want to hear.

I had these thoughts again when I read this blog post and wondered if we'd rather have staff or a church building.  We can just barely afford our pastor and our building.  I'm not sure we can afford our staff members.

Of course, we have a building that's on lots of land for a South Florida location--we haven't even begun to explore utilizing/maximizing those resources.  Is the Holy Spirit nudging us that way?

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you've read my thoughts on my uneasiness with buildings; this piece is typical, plus it has a link to a great post by Nadia Bolz-Weber about the Babylonian captivity of our buildings.  Jesus sent his earliest followers out into the world, and they weren't scouting for locations for new church buildings.  Sigh.

Lately I have been wondering if Church Council is not the place where I'm supposed to be.  I just do not care about this building.  It's ugly.  The space is poorly designed.  And did I mention how ugly it is?  Why must we spend so much time talking about the building?

In this time of Advent, what is the Holy Spirit saying to me?  To phrase it another way:  if we have to spend so much time talking about this wretched building, what kinds of conversations could thrill me?

I've been thinking again about the church as a center for the arts.  Could I transform this ugly building into such a vision?

Could I make it possible for others to do that?  It doesn't have to be about me, after all.

I'm more interested in the programming than in the building.  What would that programming look like?

It's Advent, the time for diving deep into our dreams and visions.  I shall try to be more open to mine.

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