Friday, September 18, 2015

New ventures,

Can I confess something? I don’t like the fact that, over twenty years ago, we changed our name away from New Ventures Christian Church. For those still around who were involved in that decision, please know I’m not second-guessing or casting stones! I realize there were great reasons for the change. You’d worked for over a decade to grow the community, buy the land, build the building, and were, therefore, committing to being in this place, doing ministry at this location, integrating your church family, your hopes for making God’s Kingdom come within the Plymouth Creek neighborhood. That’s a beautiful a reason. Commitment is holy. Hence, Plymouth Creek is a good name.

But I love New Ventures, the former name. Some of the backstory, of course, was a struggle between leadership at FCC Minneapolis, nudging people to feel led by God to embark on the new venture of forming a new church. The name “Plymouth Creek” was a small way of moving on, therefore, by claiming an independent identity. Choosing New Ventures in the first place, though, was a wise act of faithfulness. After all, what else is living faithfully than frequent experiences of newness, of changing directions, of everyday resurrections? Part of me wishes the old name remained because it would’ve kept that mission- to forge forward in new ventures with God constantly- front and center, always.

Well, I’m discussing that name because we have a new venture ahead, Church. Alas, it’s not the one we anticipated. Last Monday, due to lack of funds, the Board decided that, unless some miracle arises, we’re ceasing efforts to renovate and expand our building with Yellow Brick Road Childcare. 

I must share how proud I was of your leadership as they made that heartbreaking decision. They understood it comes with real costs- money paid we won’t get back, large bills still outstanding, the likelihood that our child care tenant will leave in the near future, with all the budget ramifications that holds. To say nothing of not accomplishing the good work for kids from poor families that we dreamed about. Nevertheless, they talked about God’s will together, prayed together, loved one another without blaming each other or others, and basically were the good, faithful Christians we know makes God’s heart sing.

It says something about people’s (or a church’s) character, the old adage goes, how they react when the cards aren’t falling their way. Your Board reacted faithfully. And hopefully. And that’s awesome! You see, our conversation wasn’t just about whether we’re able to do this or not, or what the fallout will be. We’ve discussed all that, of course, and will be quick to share what we learn when we learn it. But soon enough they turned to, “So what’s next? God brought us this far. We learned important things, and the dream of using our resources to grow our community in numbers and mission impact remains. This chapter closed. The book hasn’t ended.”

Put differently, new ventures remain. So after a meeting you’d imagine I or others would leave feeling dejected, defeated, instead I walked to my car with a smile on my face and lightness in my heart. And I was grateful to have witnessed the Christian hearts of these people, of you. Thank you!

And again I ask, “What’s next?!” Indeed, that’ll be the topic of our Fall Sermon Series, for your information. We’ll look at Scripture’s many texts and stories about reversals, new life, fresh beginnings because we know that new ventures are God’s specialty. And they’re in our church DNA too, if no longer in our name. Please lift your hearts in prayer, then, for discernment among your leadership. Contact them or me with any concerns, questions, or ideas that pop up. Finally, thank YBR for walking with us on this road, and risking with us, and taking serious losses too in hopes that we’d be able to serve our neighbors better together. Their next steps are also uncertain. May God guide them with grace as God does us. And may we all respond with faith, hope and love.

Grace and Peace,

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