Each of our perspectives of this church has been affected by our own exposure and experience. What is yours? As a warmly welcomed church member for the last two years and, as of August 1st, the newest pastor at Winnetka Covenant Church, I recognize that I view the ministry of this church from a unique perspective.
In part, my perspective is limited because since moving to Wilmette 2-½ years ago, I’ve only attended perhaps a dozen in-person worship gatherings. Prior to serving here, my Sunday morning preaching commitment as an Associate University Chaplain at Northwestern University did not allow for me to attend as often as I would have liked.
Some Sundays, my perspective of the church was informed by the folded bulletin I sometimes found buried in my wife’s purse. When I was fortunate enough to track one down, I would often read through the liturgy on my own over my favorite cereal (Raisin Bran!) during our traditional Sunday night breakfast for dinner.
But that wasn’t my only exposure to the church. Once in a while, I would hear a verbal testimony from a family member about a particularly interesting sermon topic or service element. Sometimes my curiosity would be so peeked that I would seek out the recording of the service online, just to deepen my exposure and lessen my FOMO.
Yet, I haven’t felt significantly disconnected from WCC. Even with my family’s staggered attendance due to the pandemic and our career paths, my perspective has also been informed by Refuel and through the relationships formed with the people of this church. At a dinner table in the gym, on the front lawn of the church, or around a firepit in a backyard, we have shared and listened to each other’s stories, grieved our losses, and celebrated our milestones.
While I have a relatively limited exposure to this particular church, my own perspective has also been shaped by my past experiences with other churches, as a volunteer, a worship pastor in two churches, and a lead pastor in three other churches. All of these experiences with the Church universal contribute to my unique perspective, which I now bring to WCC in the role of Interim Youth Pastor and Facilities Manager.
Each of our perspectives is unique within the Church. Our perspectives are good to share, discuss, learn from, and challenge each other with! For example, not only do preaching pastors at WCC see the fire extinguisher that is stored behind the pulpit in the sanctuary (an ironic placement, just in case our preaching “sets the Church on fire”), we have a unique role—handling the Bible and extracting its wisdom, not just for ourselves, but for the whole congregation.
In a healthy environment, we see growth among God’s people. Our palettes are drawn to the sweetness of the Gospel, and we hunger to see the church bloom into all it can be in Christ. However, one doesn’t have to be a part of a church long to see the whole gamut of human behavior revealed, from extraordinary acts of hospitality to feats of hostility—exactly the kind of behavior that necessitated the creation of Church as a spiritual hospital in the first place.
As the proverb of American naturalist, John Muir instructs, “When the flower blossoms, the bee will come. Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it!” Like the bee when a flower is in bloom, a Christian’s delicate job is to extract the sweetness of God’s word without damaging the blossoming Church.
As the Church, we should ask ourselves: Do we value the unique and diverse perspective that every person brings to this body? Are we willing to be honest and vulnerable so that past pitfalls can prevent future missteps? Are we leading with love and gentle guidance so that we ultimately draw others to Jesus Christ? Together with you, I’m embracing the delicate task of extracting the sweetness of the Book for the glory of God and the good of all of God’s people!