Pastor’s Page January 2019

Pastor’s Page January 2019

While in the past new years have brought sweeping changes to my personal life–new jobs, new houses, relocations, graduations, births, deaths, and the like–they have not often brought sweeping changes to the churches I’ve served. For better or for worse, congregational changes tend to be incremental, if there is any perceptible change at all. And perhaps we have come to depend on that: while the world around us swirls, there’s something reliable about the predictability and routine nature of Sunday after Sunday, season after season.

2019 is not going to be like that for First Congregational Church of Stamford. Our building is sold. There is no turning back from that fact. We have 12 months max to find a new home. Additionally, we will be searching for a restart pastor to launch what I’m provisionally calling New Church Stamford. There will still be Sundays and there will still be seasons, but–out of necessity–we will be inventing new ways to mark them, new rhythms to celebrate them, and new eyes to notice the spirit of God moving among us and our community.

This may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t do change well. My natural inclination is to resist. But I’ve found that fighting change–at least change that God is bringing about–is exhausting and fruitless. I’ve found that the key to surviving and even thriving in the midst of sweeping change is to focus on my spiritual practice. For me, this is prayer, meditation, worship, Scripture study, physical exercise, community, and service.

Change is difficult, but I’m convinced that change is simply the nature of reality. Nothing in this world is exempt–not even church. So my invitation to you is to step boldly into 2019. As a church we have a direction, we have a plan, and we have resources. These three things are huge items in our “plus” column. Most churches I know don’t have any of these things. They tend to wander around in circles making incremental change after incremental change that don’t really take them anywhere. We, at least, are a congregation with a vision and a congregation with a goal: to become the church Stamford needs us to be. Though at times the work may feel overwhelming, remember, nothing is impossible with God.

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Designated Term Transitional Pastor of First Church of Christ in Saybrook (CT).

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