What’s Up with Pastor Todd 7-16-21

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 7-16-21

“Everyone should have a chance to be the watering can, and everyone should have a chance to be the flower.” At our (almost) weekly TGIF (“Thank goodness it’s Friday”) social gatherings I’ve been asking First Church and South Church folks about the consolidation conversation: what’s exciting, what’s challenging, what’s working, what’s not working, where folks find God in the mix. When I asked a South Church person at a recent TGIF how she thought things were going she responded that she really appreciated the possibility of increased volunteer support. She said that at church “Everyone should have a chance to be the watering can, and everyone should have a chance to be the flower.”

I must have made a quizzical expression because she explained that at South Church (much like First Church, in my opinion) it’s been the same people rotating leadership positions for quite some years. Volunteers are getting tired and burned out. She explained that in her ideal church everyone gets a chance to be the watering can–that is, everyone has a chance to serve on behalf of the larger community–and everyone gets to be a flower–that is, everyone gets a chance to be served and nourished by the larger community. Her hope was that joining together would create a larger volunteer base and more opportunity for people to shift in and out of “watering can” and “flower” roles. I agreed. In my experience that is how healthy churches and organizations function. Dying churches are “stuck” churches and “stuckness” manifests in the same people stuck in the same roles year after year. Watering cans need opportunities to refill if they are to continue watering and flowers need to share their fruit if they are going to continue to grow.

A little story about flowers and watering cans: Last week I joined my wife to hike about 50 miles of the Maine section of the Appalachian Trail. She is hiking the entire 200 miles of the Maine Appalachian Trail for her sabbatical. During our hike we got rained on for almost two days straight. As we hiked through the rain I just got soggier and soggier. It was unpleasant. The trees and the moss and the ferns, however, shone with a bright green radiance as if they were rejoicing with every drop. The sun eventually came out. Nicole and I dried off. And by the time we had completed our 50 mile itinerary, I was reluctant to leave. Though difficult and unpleasant at times, the journey had been incredibly spiritually refreshing for me. It was so good to unplug, step out of my daily routine, and engage in a strenuous physical challenge. My point is, being a “flower” isn’t always pleasant. It takes both rain and sunshine to grow. And being a “watering can” doesn’t have to be onerous. Frederick Buechner wrote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep joy and the world’s deep need meet.” I look forward to creating a community of joy and genuine spiritual nourishment together. 

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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