Consider owning a home.
Most homeowners imagine an attractive and comfortable place where they can both invite guests and unwind alone. We readily invest time and money to achieve our visions for a home. Painting the bedroom, buying new furniture, and remodeling the kitchen often contribute to our dreams.
But houses also require lots of unexciting work. Some of it is basic maintenance: weeding the yard, patching the driveway, caulking the windows. Some of it is more serious: snaking the sewer line, repairing the foundation, tenting for termites.
Maintenance and repair can be disappointing when we’d rather furnish our dream home. But homeowners know they must save for a new kitchen while addressing the inevitable chores. Getting rid of the wasp nests is just as important to making a home inviting and restful as spending a Saturday at Restoration Hardware (or World Market, if that’s more your style).
Now consider a presbytery.
The place of routine maintenance in the life of Los Ranchos is regularly on my mind. Our common life is full of unglamorous work that is nevertheless fundamental to our mission.
As with owning a home, some of that unglamorous work responds to circumstances as they arise: intervening in a congregational conflict, handling a request for dismissal, helping a pastor with unexpected medical expenses.
Other tasks encourage health and prevent problems: reviewing a loan request (to make sure a congregation doesn’t overextend itself); examining a pastor’s call (to keep a new pastor from leading the church off a cliff); establishing an administrative commission for a new worshiping community (to back up the NWC’s actions with Presbytery’s authority).
And just as with owning a home, the day-in, day-out work of Los Ranchos is central to helping churches flourish and new ministries emerge. We follow a God, after all, who turned the demeaning drudgery of foot-washing into the high call of servanthood (John 13). When we remember this, even maintaining the Presbytery’s “house” becomes a pathway into deeper spirituality.
According to the draft vision plan that Presbytery discussed on February 25, we seek “to be a community of flourishing churches that joyfully participate in God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ in the world.” As the draft plan states, measuring congregational health and fostering new missional communities are important means to achieve that vision.
But so is the necessary-but-humdrum work of the Presbytery. Unexciting work done well will lie behind all our efforts to start and sustain strong churches. If our is to guide us effectively, it must help us articulate the value of what we have to do as well as it communicates what we want to do.
And to be honest, I haven’t figured this piece out yet. I don’t yet entirely know how to articulate the relationship in Los Ranchos between pursuing the grand call of God on the one hand and keeping up with everyday chores on the other.
So if you find yourself intrigued by the conversation I’ve introduced, I would love your help. I invite your responses to the following questions, or to ones like them:
—How would you articulate the ways in which the routine work of the Presbytery supports the broader vision?
—What are the responsibilities we either can’t avoid or mustn’t avoid—and how will fulfilling them help us become “a community of flourishing churches”?
—As you imagine the Presbytery promoting “God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ in the world,” how do you see that happening? What tasks do you see as key?
Feel free to contribute in the comments section below, or send me an email. Either way, let’s talk.