The local church I serve is going through a discernment process for how the congregation will move forward into the future. I affectionately call them ‘Family Meetings’.

#1 Son and Baby Girl never liked family meetings when they were growing up, but they were absolutely necessary for the health of our family. Family meetings meant we would be walking into a difficult season or resetting from a difficult season. We could expect the first ten minutes of the Reilly Family Meetings to be awful as we faced some elephant in the room, but afterwards we’d always be okay, even better over time. Nobody liked Family Meetings, but they were necessary to share information, offer space to process the information, then respond and move forward as one family in the healthiest way. 

In many local United Methodist Churches, this Family Meeting process is covered in prayer and lots of information. Lots of information. Lots. Of. Information. Study and prayer.

My church leadership has sought to make a way so that everyone can BE heard, BE informed, and BE loved through the Family Meeting process. A task force composed of amazing Jesus guys and gals has led the way. I’ve covered them daily in the armor of God through prayer.

As a staff member of the local church we’ve been asked to continue to plan for and prepare in a neutral position to engage in our community in ministry and mission. As a peculiar people (see last week’s post) I’ve seen the fruit of that with new families participating in women’s Bible studies, children’s Bible studies, religious badge clinics, recreational soccer, special events, local and international missions, and a sermon series diving deeply into 1 John. We have Jesus work to do and have no time to be distracted, sloppy, nor halt everything until.

Take Courage: The Book of Haggai is a wonderful small group study authored by Jennifer Rothschild. She uses Jeremiah 29:4-9 to lay out three practices of a woman in exile (in a foreign land) which speaks to how to navigate through a place we did not ask for, yet here we are: (1) Participate with it by planting, building, increasing, multiplying, (2) Pursue God in it through daily study, model with my whole heart and mind, and (3) be Patient with the exile, patient with myself, patient with the process. Rothschild finishes with the promise of faithfully participating, pursuing, and being patient: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12.

Though chatter is thick, the navigational beacons to share the goodness and faithfulness of our Triune God have remained clear because I’ve worked through my own three BEs.

Be in prayer.
Lord, let me not be distracted from doing the work of growing in Christian community through sharing the gospel of Jesus. Let me not sin in any of it through word or deed. You alone are trustworthy and I trust You to make a way for the littles and bigs to love You with their whole hearts for their whole lives. Let me faithfully drip, drip, drip into the faith buckets of the families I serve. For those who are serving on my local church’s task force, I pray Your full Armor upon them, as shared in Ephesians 6. Amen. 

Be clearly informed.
The chatter is about many issues. I’ve discerned the good, the beautiful, and the true as best I can. For the rest I have to stay out of the weeds and trust the Lord to work out the details. As a pilgrim on the Walk to Emmaus in 2000 we were challenged to study church history. Outright craziness! How in the world can the church still be around?!? Yet here are. A holy remnant I hope to be. Even now I’m enrolled in a great online class about the church and leaders of the era around King Henry VIII and Martin Luther entitled, “Off With Their Heads”  led by Brandi Diamond who served a season as a children’s ministry leader. 

Be ready for the change that is coming.
Change is coming. It’s unreasonable to think anything will remain the same regardless of what happens. We have been actively (or reactively) engaged in change for quite some time now. We’ve gone through a shift in family rhythms, routines, culturally, and can truthfully report that everything is still changing. So the gospel of Jesus my focus must be. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and oh, how I love Him. This is where being clearly informed will be helpful to navigate the flux in the flex. I’ve become a student of my families to know seasons, holidays, work rhythms, and am involved in their lives even if only online through social media with an attaboy for riding a bike without training wheels, losing a tooth, winning a contest, and so much more. So I’ll move forward with my plans to expand Faith Milestones beyond the local church to home in 2023 and beyond. Stay tuned because we have Jesus work to do and have no time to wait. 

In the words of the MasterChief voice on my Waze app, “Stay the course.” 

“‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:13-14b