When I first learned to drive, I was constantly moving my steering wheel back and forth, adjusting to every tiny variation in the road. It was nerve wracking for me, and probably stomach turning for my passengers. As I became more skillful, I looked farther and farther out in front of me, and no longer needed to bother with adjustments to minor variations just ahead. My scale had shifted. I was operating in a larger field.
Several years ago when I was working on a project with my friend the Rev. Tom Schade, he shared the observation that different folks understand and relate to church differently, and it is often quite different from how he or I do.
There is the person who approaches church as a Consumer – someone who pays for services received, understands the church as a store.
There is the person who engages the church as a Co-Op – someone who pays their fair share of expenses, understands the church as a shared facility – like a cabin shared by siblings.
There is the person who engages the church as an Owner – someone who invests more than necessary to create more – understanding church as a small business.
And there is the person who engages the church as Benefactor – as someone who invests for the benefit of others with no hope of personal return – understanding church as a gift to the future.
Each of these models over time, yields different outcomes, not only in terms of financial support, but more importantly, in regard to the quality of life we share. When our model is quid pro quo our circle is small, its members immediate, and options few and constrained.
The further out we go in our model of church, widening our circle of inclusion and concern, the more stable and resilient over time we become. Much like my developing driving, we can focus on the long view, and settle in for a sustained and meaningful journey.
Gardeners know that. As we are reminded in Deuteronomy, we drink from wells we did not dig, eat from vineyards and olive groves we did not plant, dwell in cities we did not build. Those before us gave, that we might have.
Whether you are participating in our New UU Discovery classes this month, considering joining the choir for our Easter Sunday service, or ramping up your pledge to help us expand our impact into the generations, I invite you to think about what kind of relationship you want to have with your church. Spring will be upon us. The soil receptive. This might be your time to turn over a new leaf, and plant a seed for tomorrow.
Joyfully, faithfully yours,