Way back in 2015 (remember 2015?), Pastor Craig assembled a “Dream Team” comprised of a cross-section of the congregation, to investigate God’s call on 1stPres. I was intrigued and curious as I watched them, from a support role, as they explored and tried to focus in on the voice of God. I was impressed with how they went about their business: seriously and methodically. They even talked to people from outside 1stPres, some of whom don’t go to any church at all, to get their insights and impressions on what they thought a church should be like.
I was lucky enough to sit in on a couple of their “Dream” sessions. I can assure you that there wasn’t a lot of “dreaming” going on – at least not in the sense of daydreaming. These were high-energy affairs that were focused and productive. It was great to see people dig deeply and share their passions with one another. It was a very respectful and supportive environment of discovery. Many wonderful ideas were brought up and discussed. In the end, there were more ideas than was practical for us to try to tackle. There was a painful, careful process of narrowing down to the five that seemed like they most fit the character, culture and strengths of 1stPres and which were most clearly the direction God was leading us as a church.
The 5 Big Moves…
- Reach Out to Youth and Young Adults
- Discover the Next Generation Church
- Bless Downtown Hospitality Workers
- Networking Community Churches
- Create a New and Handicap-Accessible Front Entrance
But perhaps the team’s biggest challenge was coming up with a mission statement. This is the word or words that most concisely sums up the purpose, focus, and direction of an organization. It’s important to have a clear mission statement because it is a banner that everyone can rally behind, and it helps keep you on track as you move forward.
I was excited to hear what they came up with back then, and I think it’s worth remembering here and now.
In everything we do we will love first; God, each other, and our neighbors.
“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
I love the LOVE 1ST mission statement! So simple and clear, such a great plumb line for our actions. Difficult to walk out in a straight line, but compelling, and so full of promise.
All great ideas, right? I was excited to get moving on them immediately. Actually, I didn’t even want to have to bother with the process of bringing them to life – I just wanted them all to be real and vibrant right away. But I’ve been learning to respect the process. And a part of that has been watching how one of the Big Moves teams dealt with adversity.
We had been working for a little while with an organization out of Spokane called Big Table. As you may know, Big Table reaches out to meet the needs of people working in the hospitality industry – like waiters, waitresses and cooks. Big Table had already been working successfully in Spokane, and it seemed like a cinch that they would want to work with us on creating a branch here in Coeur d’Alene. However, Big Table was focusing on moving into larger cities and didn’t have the bandwidth to also help us here. I thought this would be devastating news to the team working on the “Bless Downtown Hospitality Workers” Big Move, but they were not deterred. They just dreamed bigger.
They decided to form their own non-profit. Not one that worked as a part of the church, but their own, independent non-profit organization. Of course they wanted to work alongside the church, and under its shelter as they began to grow. But their plan was to only be incubated here, and then move out on their own.
To me, it was a staggering undertaking of massive proportions. There is so much involved in forming and running a non-profit. I wasn’t sure how they were going to make it happen, but they didn’t seem overwhelmed or nervous – just excited! I was amazed at their faith, and I waited to see what God would make of it. Of course they had a part to play, and they worked hard to do everything they could to make it work. They have poured a ton of time, energy and love into this Big Move, and God has blessed them for it.
As you probably know, they call themselves CDAide and they are made up of members of 1stPres and members of the community. In February, they held their first fundraiser, which brought in $18,000! They have been able to help a lot of people with that money. Then after that, other organizations have taken notice and have started reaching out to them. The Kiwanis Club contacted them and invited them to apply for a grant. And last weekend, a concert group chose them as the beneficiaries of their offering. Another $1000 was raised!
So this Big Move is obviously off to a great start. And it makes me reflect on the other Big Moves. It makes me wonder if we’re dreaming big enough with each of them. This week, we are launching a Phase 2 fundraising campaign for the Big Moves. This is mostly intended to help cover the skyrocketing construction costs of our remodel project (number 5 of the Big Moves), but I am dreaming that we raise far more money than we need. I am dreaming that we are able to do much more than we were originally planning to do – even with the remodel.
I know that a building project doesn’t seem to be that spiritual of an undertaking. And it would be easy to lose track of what’s really important if we focus solely on the brick and mortar of our church and not the content of it. But we need a place to meet. We need a container to house, shelter and serve the people of God as they go about His work. So the building may not be the light itself, but it is the lampstand the light is placed on. Maybe we could even say the building is like the wineskin that holds the wine.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22
Is it too much to suggest that God is having us make our building like new so He can pour new wine into it? I am dreaming that this is true. I am dreaming that God wants to pour out His Spirit into 1stPres. I am dreaming of a big beautiful lampstand, to hold a glorious, radiant light from God.