Capturing A Teachable Moment

One of the things I’ve learned about God during my spiritual journey is His penchant for creating teachable moments. The pattern is painfully familiar. It starts with learning something He wants to develop in me. He invites me to learn from Him, normally through the Word. Then He quickly places me in a situation where I get to experience what He wants me to learn. It’s awkward and painful at the time, but always effective.

 

I think we experienced such a teachable moment as a church family yesterday.  For those who weren’t with us let me share a little of the story. I began a series in Philemon about Christ’s desire to redeem our relationships. We learned that a vision for redeeming relationships will require a courageous commitment on our part - to understand and listen to one another, to respect God’s activity in each of our stories, to celebrate our differences and then to display the gentleness of grace to one another. Then the teaching moment occurred. A member of our worship team was deeply touched by God in the course of the morning. As she looked for words to share her heart she altered the design and direction of the service and extended the service beyond our normal schedule.  The service ended in an awkward way. It created an uncomfortable experience for many in the service.

 

Like those of you who were present yesterday I’ve been thinking about the experience. The elders discussed it as a group last night at our monthly meeting. Our challenge with all teachable moments is to capture what God seeks to do in us through them.  Our commitment as elders is to lead as learners in our faith journey as a family. In that spirit I’d like to share a few of our ‘take-away’ reflections. Hopefully they’ll offer some perspective as you process your thoughts and feelings.

 

    The moment revealed some of the growth opportunities we’ll face as we learn to embrace some of the differences that exist within our family.  Differences in experience. Difference in expectation. Differences in worship style. Opportunities our

    younger members will have in learning to appreciate and respect     the established culture and traditions that are important to us as a church. Opportunities our older members will have in learning to appreciate and respect an emerging culture and the traditions they long to create. Our challenge remains the same – how do we invite Christ into the midst of these very real differences and find a place of mutual understanding and respect.

 

    We have a strong desire that Grace be a ‘safe place’ for all our family to connect with God and one another. For those who felt anything but safe yesterday we apologize for the discomfort and awkwardness you experienced. Part of our challenge as leaders is to protect that safety. Another part is to introduce new experiences with wisdom and in ways that feel appropriate within our culture. While there was certainly nothing wrong with what was said and done, it didn’t fit naturally into the flow of the morning and didn’t respect the framework of our service.

 

    We also have a strong desire that Grace be a ‘safe place’ where people can learn to use their gifts and talents - finding

    their place and contribution within the body of Christ.  As I look back upon my early years of ministry and leadership I’m quite sure I created a lot of discomfort and awkwardness for people as I found my way. I can smile today. I’m sure it wasn’t so funny then. But I’m so grateful for the church family that accepted my imperfections and gave me plenty of room to discover, explore and fail (by the way I’m still grateful for such grace today). Such an environment frees us to take the risks that growth requires. While becoming a safe environment is especially relevant for the younger members of our family, we want to extend the same safety to everyone learning to follow God into new places.

 

So how do we as a family invite Christ into this teachable moment?

 

We choose to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We choose to bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we may have against one another. We choose to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us. And over all these virtues we choose to put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:12-14)

 

As we learn from this teachable moment and move forward together I’m confident we will once again live up to our name – Grace. A community of imperfect but redeemed people pursuing redeemed relationships.

 

Thank for you being who you are as a family,

 

Gary Franklin

On behalf of the Elders