Not Another Church

VERONA DOESN’T NEED ANOTHER CHURCH       

That was on the flyer five years ago when we officially transitioned from a regional gathering of lifeGroup members to a regular worship site.   Maybe that’s when things started getting sticky.  Ironically, the floor WAS sticky due to the room being used as a banquet hall the night before!  I mean sticky as in I started to stick to the Sunday worship as the focus of the Church in Verona.  And four years ago when we started leasing a space to call our own all week, things got even stickier.  We could INSTALL things, we could make things look NICE so that it was a desirable place to GO TO CHURCH  with hopes that more people would want to GO TO CHURCH with us.

But VERONA DOESN’T NEED ANOTHER CHURCH.

Many well-meaning Christians go “church shopping”  when they are looking for a church that is in line with their beliefs, feels right, meets their needs; where people are friendly, the music is uplifting, and there are activities that fit their interests and availability. If you visit the Church in Verona to do some comparison shopping, you may be confused or disappointed.  You won’t be able to slip in and out unnoticed. And beware, people will talk to you, they will want to know you and love you because, as the rest of that flyer from five years ago states,

WE’RE HERE TO BE THE CHURCH.   Come and BE a part of something different. 

Coming to a different place to worship and BEing different are two different exercises. The first took some getting used to since the Church in Verona is intentionally not like the places I’ve worshiped all my life.   And I’m still working on the second.  Or maybe I should say God is still working on me despite myself.  I know that attracting people to Sunday worship is not our primary goal.  But it’s a whole lot easier to DO things that make the Sunday morning worship happen than it is to pursue a relationship with someone I don’t already know.   It’s also easier to talk to someone who comes to our worship service than someone who may not have ever been to a church.

I also know that spiritual growth is more important than numerical growth.    And in our smaller, intimate setting we get to hear and share stories on a weekly basis that powerfully reflect spiritual growth. Unfortunately, the stories don’t translate into our culture’s measure of success.   After all, when I am asked “How’s the Church in Verona going?” the expected answer and the one I’d like to report is a numerical increase in attendance.   It seems that would justify the cost of maintaining our worship site.   One could easily get discouraged knowing that of the 18 families connected to the Church in Verona in the past five years, 10 have either moved away or worship elsewhere.  I have felt defensive and been quick to criticize others’ spiritual maturity rather than my own.

I have definitely fallen short of the type of spiritual growth that results in numerical increases.  I can articulate what it means to BE the Church, to BE a missionary, but I have rarely moved from knowledge to practice.   I’m still DOing what I’ve done all my life.  I’d rather let someone else follow the Holy Spirit’s prompts to do new and uncomfortable things.   The fact is I don’t want to be different.  I don’t want to change.  I am afraid.  But God still loves me. And He will still have His way with me.  He is very patient.