Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Foggy Day and Unmapped Ways

This last Sunday, my little church voted to move toward dis-incorporation.

It's not that we don't like each other, or can't get along. It's not a church split or a blow up over theological differences. It feels more like a lack of traction.

The church is 15 years old (or so) and we've been a part for 6 years. It was started as a plant but never really seemed to build any momentum. A year ago, we spent a fair amount of time trying to increase our focus, gin up some enthusiasm, attack the mission with fresh vigor...but looking back on how we did...not so much I guess.

We're a small band, and we want desperately to serve God and advance his kingdom, but it seems to us that our current form is just not making it happen. It's partly financial (we project a $17K budget deficit for next year) but mostly it's just a sort of shoulder shrugging sense of giving it our best shot and falling short.

Rather than just fall apart and leave a mess behind, however, we are trying to find a way to go out gracefully, creatively, even usefully. We accepted a 6 month budget, and directed the council (on which I sit) to take action to begin laying groundwork for the dissolving of the legal entity. The final vote will probably happen in late March.

Apparently dissolution of a church is a more complex process than one might have thought. We have responsibilities to the denomination, to the State of NH and to the Federal Government (IRS). Due diligence is required, proper forms must be observed, and the books must close properly. Any remaining assets will go to the denomination specifically for the purpose of planting new churches.

Any remaining people? Well, that's a matter of some conversation. In the middle of it there are sparks of hope. We like each other, and think that God has something for us, perhaps separately, but perhaps as a group taking another form. There is talk. Just a little now, but I think it is growing as we think, and pray and consider what mission Jesus is sending us on now.

Much concern about our Pastor, who we called and who moved out here to New England from Minnesota to serve us. Now we are leaving him in the lurch -- not completely I guess, but there isn't much about it that's pretty. The whole process has been very open, and to some extent, he has guided us through it. We are seeking to do as God will, not grasping at straws to force our plan. Having seen churches implode in the past, I must say this is something quite different and unusual.

While I can only imagine that the ultimate conclusion will be a net good, the future is a foggy white blank, and it is impossible to discern what shapes are going to loom out of the mist as we lurch down a road unmarked and unmapped.

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