When I was called as Senior Pastor seven years ago, I began writing an annual letter. My intent was to give insight into where Sheridan’s ministry is and where I hoped we might go together. I keep writing it each year because of the positive feedback I receive.
Something is happening…
The Getting It Right series started with, “we can all feel it. Something is wrong right now in our society…” The message was well-received, striking a chord with folks.
As this series winds down I keep hearing the same message, just on the other side of the spectrum. “I can feel it. Something is happening. Everything feels right now at Sheridan.”
People have a will to change. People have a will to be the change.
Our Getting It Right Series, loosely based on Senator Ben Sasse’s book, “Them,” led us down a path of self-discovery. We took a long hard look at what is wrong with our society these days – problems that have been building for the better part of the last 20 years. The conclusion we’ve reached is that we need community. Our isolated and insular way of life is really not helping us. It appears that our Sheridan family is open to the truth of the Gospel, namely that we are called to community.
I personally believe that the church (all of our Christian churches) has contributed to some of the problems within our society. It is a distinctly North American expression of Christianity which has turned church into a “me and Jesus” phenomenon. This individualistic approach to the faith is expressly against the contents of the Bible. From the very time of Abraham, God’s people were created in and for community.
The “Church Growth Movement” also contributed to our struggles. For many years, the church felt very irrelevant, unwilling and unable to change. The Church Growth Movement introduced contemporary forms of worship and increased programming. The positive results were that folks felt welcomed and drawn to church again! The struggle is that this morphed into a sense of what “the church can do for you” – which ultimately yielded a culture of church as simply another consumeristic choice. In many ways, Sheridan fell into this trap and suffered as a result.
Our journey this year seems to be the culmination of several years of a new approach. People are coming to Sheridan because of what they can give to the community and not just what they can get out of it. Community is the lifeblood of fulfillment. People are sensing this at Sheridan.
Over the years, lots of churches have tried to “chase” minimally connected churchgoers, “At least they’re still here. We’re lucky to have them” is frequently heard. This culture has yielded that same “At least we’re here” mentality. As your pastor, I believe that God calls us to more than giving our “least.”
Even more, can you imagine approaching your marriage, role as a parent or employer with a “you’re lucky I’m here” mentality? How would that work? How do you think that attitude would impact any relationship in your life – let alone your relationship with God? I am so proud that we have grown hearts beyond this at Sheridan. What an amazing community we have and have become.
I remain ever-grateful for the privilege to serve at Sheridan. Our team of leaders – staff, elected Council members, volunteers and all those who give of their time, talent and treasure – regularly fill my heart with awe and wonder. We are blessed to be together. We are blessed to be community. We are blessed to love deeply, grow spiritually and share abundantly.