Sunday, August 31, 2008

An Attempt at Fusion

Fusion does not simply have to take place by adding new people to a congregation. In fact, the congregation I serve is about to attempt fusion in what I feel is a new and exciting way. The Sunday School class that was just for adults in the past has been renamed “Fusion.” The name reflects the intent of the class to “fuse” the adults with our young people. This class will include everyone from middle school on up. Our first set of lessons will revolve around the book “The Church of Our Fathers.” As our young people and adults study together, they will also begin to learn more about each other. Adults will learn more about what interests our young people, and our young people will be able to draw on the life experience of our adults. Why is this important? I believe that the gap in understanding each other is a part of why we lose young adults from our churches. They want (and need) to be taken seriously. How can we do that if we don’t know them? How can we know them if we are always separated? How will this play out? I honestly don’t know. It is my hope and prayer that this class will be a catalyst for change. A change in how we look at each other and a change in how we work together as God’s chosen people. As with any other “change” there is a risk involved in the process. Risk is not new to God’s people. God has been expecting us to take risks from the beginning. Just take a closer look at the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and you will see a short catalog of men and women who were asked to take risks for God and how they were blessed when they took that risk. Fusion is risky business. But taking risks (also known as testing our faith) is in the DNA of a Christian. How about it? Are you willing to risk failure in order to do what you know the Lord is calling you to do? I am!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fusion and Transformation

Transformation has been described as:
1. A commitment on the part of a congregation to be constantly looking for the new things that God is doing in our midst and to welcome and participate in them.
2. A process by which these new things can be discerned.
3. The renewal the Holy Spirit can bring about as a result.

As congregations seek to become “transformed,” I believe fusion is absolutely necessary. Transformation by its very definition deals with change. Change, especially in an established, mainline denominational church will almost NEVER happen without a change in the “demographics.” By this, I mean that in order for most churches to change, there must be more than a desire to change, there must be a catalyst. True, that catalyst can be the pastor, but that places a burden that the individual pastor may or may not be able to provide by his or herself. Even if the pastor is able to get the Session to agree that change is necessary and good, old habits are hard to break. “We’ve already tried that in the past” or ‘We’ve never done it that way before” creeps into many an attempt to transform a congregation. That is why I believe that Fusion is the answer. In order for many churches to change (even if they really, really want to change), there will need to be new people added to the mix to make it happen; new people without any preconceived notions as to what has or hasn’t “worked” in the past; new people that are excited to see the work of God done by their church.
Am I saying that transformation cannot happen without new people being added to the mix? Of course not! What I am saying is that new people being “fused” into the church are already a catalyst for transformation to take place. While transformation can (and should) lead to growth, I believe growth is more likely to lead to transformation!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why Fused?

Some people who know me will probably think they "know" why I chose the name "Fused Pastor," but they would be wrong! Believe me, I get just as confused as the rest of you at times, and yes, that is a small part of why I chose the name. In reality, the name is more about how I view my role as a pastor in today's world. Fusion is a term often used is cooking where different cuisines are "fused" to make a new one. In my roll as a pastor, I see as one of my main duties "fusing" (or a more traditional term would be "grafting") people into the church. This is not just about reaching the lost for Christ (though this is certainly a part of it). This is more about working to blend the old and the new, the traditional and the non-traditional, the weak and the strong, and to do so in such a way that everyone grows closer to Christ through the process.
Is this fusion possible? Not only is it possible, but it is absolutely necessary if the church is to remain what Christ has called her to be. It is time to stop dwelling on our differences, and start focusing on what we have in common through Christ. The farmer and the stock broker have the same needs when it comes to salvation--Christ. It is time for us to learn to work together as the people of God if we are truly to be the "salt of the earth," the "light of the world," and the "city on the hill."
This blog is simply my reflections on my efforts to make fusion possible where I am and to encourage others to join with me to become "fused pastors!"