Hymns, Heartbreak, and Healing

Fractured hearts and ragged emotions.

Some in our church are hurt and angry and scared.

Because we’re going through change.

Major change.

Last month we switched from two Sunday morning services–one traditional and one contemporary–to one single service.

Generations no longer divided.

And our pastor believes this is of God. That He is leading us on a path to as yet unknown places.

That we are to no longer be “them” and “us.”

But one family. Together. Generation upon generation upon generation.

He opened his message Sunday like this:

We’re in the series entitled, To Save a Family, and this is the fourth in that series today. And the message is entitled, Strong Families Raise Good Decision Makers.

And here’s that message. (He holds up a sheaf of papers.) I’m going to pass it around if you’d like to read it because I’m not gonna preach it today.

All I am is a messenger . . .

And before the messenger brings the message that God has today–which the messenger has no idea what it’s going to be . . .

And he asked for whoever would to come and lay hands on the him and pray before he spoke.

Whoa!

He usually has notes. Not that he reads them word for word, but he usually knows where he’s going.

And God was in the house.

His message encompassed every sticky characteristic we’ve looked at so far.

Simple: We are a family in Jesus.

Unexpected: That’s an understatement.

Concrete and credible: He shared specific instances where older Christians had mentored him from a young age, and how he had often shown up in college classes “drunk” or “stoned,” and how he finally gave everything over to Jesus. And how the last two years had been maybe the hardest of his whole life and how his heart was breaking over other breaking hearts who were/are attacking him with anger and anonymous postcards. And how he didn’t want to go through this and how he tried to leave to the point of “shopping” and interviewing elsewhere. And how God would not let him run.

And it was very, very emotional (chapter 5 of Made to Stick by the Heath boys.) You will hear that if you listen. I posted the podcast link below.

Some of his stick-to-me points included:

A house divided can never stand.

If change does not come for us spiritually, we will die.

Young people: Lights and guitars and current music is not the way into the Kingdom. It’s a relationship with Jesus.

Silent generation: The way to the kingdom is not through symbols and hymns. It’s through Jesus.

We are never at a place in our lives where change is not necessary.

Some unseemly parts of the body have been exposed. We’ve got to come together and heal.

The cross is in us.

It’s time to become we.

We need each other. All of us. To deny ourselves. To follow Jesus. And go into all the world. We may not know what that path looks like or where exactly it will lead us on the way to our final home. But we don’t travel alone.

I listened to the whole message again today. It’s sticky. And I think it’s a message for the whole body of Christ.

We . . . are Family – a Message from Pastor Bill’s Heart

Pastor Bill Beachy

Trinity United Methodist Church

Lansing, Michigan

The discussion of  Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath continues at High Calling Blogs as we learn why some ideas or messages survive and others die. Head over there and check it out.

Bridget Chumbley hosts a One Word Blog Carnival on Healing today, where you can find many posts on that topic.

Comments

  1. says

    What we don’t do to ourselves as a church body. It’s almost like spiritual suicide.

    Good post, Sandra, and some good wisdom, too.

  2. says

    Great post Sandra. It’s no wonder that Jesus’ prayer in the garden was that we be united in love. It wasn’t a prayer of theology or doctrine. It was just a plea that we all get along as family. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sandra says

      Hi, Mike.

      Thanks for coming by. Family’s been important to God from the beginning of time. And even the first family couldn’t get along. Sigh.

  3. says

    Wow! You could have taken this message directly from our Canadian congregation fifteen years ago! Word for word!

    When my husband first came to the church there were two services, a 9:30 a.m. contemporary-style and an 11:00 a.m. traditional one, and people at both were very protective of what they had. The original rationale for starting the second service had been to have a more “modern” one that would appeal to and draw in youth and younger families. The previous minister and a few families had advocated it and worked very hard to make it a vibrant service, but after a few years there had been absolutely no growth in attendance. And at the traditional service people said they missed the presence of children and the younger adults. At social functions it was an “either-or” gathering… supported by people from one or the other service but rarely everyone. Even for bible studies and prayer groups people gravitated to the ones their friends attended.

    When a written poll was circulated we discovered people at both services felt the congregation had been divided, separated into “us” and “them” groups… that they no longer knew each other very well. That the few people attending the earlier service rattled around in the relatively big sanctuary and that didn’t give visitors the picture of a healthy, growing group of worshippers.

    Finally the entire congregation voted to return to one service. We deliberately didn’t choose to terminate either one but went to a brand new service at 10:00 a.m., with more congregational participation for both adults and children, a blended style of music, and followed each week by a coffee hour to nurture fellowship with each other and guests.

    In retrospect it has worked very well. At the beginning we lost two couples who weren’t pleased with the changes, but we parted in love and they still come to visit on special Sundays. The congregation has grown significantly in numbers and in faith to the point where we may soon have to consider two services again, just to accommodate the numbers. This time, however, we would ensure that the style and content of both services remained identical so that people didn’t have to decide which one suited them best, but could drift back and forth between attending either one and still feel a part of the whole.

    Sorry for the long epistle, but it was so strange to discover your post echoing the very experience that we went through years ago. I wish you and your congregation wisdom and God’s guidance as you seek to unite in Christian love for the purpose of worship, praise, prayer and fellowship.

    • Sandra says

      I love this, Carol! I think there was some talk about still continuing both services, even identical. But that would have defeated the purpose. And the possibility of eventually outgrowing a single one will likely happen in the future, I would think.

      We are still adjusting because we travel several miles (even though there’s a church a block away and one half a mile), and Sunday School happens at 9. Then there’s coffee and munchies between that and church–and my husband hates missing that. :)

      Your comment is a real encouragement!

    • Sandra says

      It was amazing. And I taught some divided kingdom/divided heart background when I started the book of Hosea today for our ladies Bible study. I didn’t even grasp until this afternoon how much what I shared tied in with our pastor’s message.

      God is at work.

  4. says

    What a gutsy pastor you have. We are in a similar situation…not combining, but two separate congregations in need of unity. Our leadership has not shown the authority we need. We are slowly dying. Sigh. It’s even too difficult to lay it down here. But thanks for this post, Sandra. I’ll be praying for your church.

  5. says

    Deep thoughts here. Our church’s breathing is pretty shallow these days. It’s a scary place to be.

    Your words…your pastor…the Word…challenge. Thank you.
    I sigh along with Laura.
    And I pray, too.

  6. says

    You are definitely going through a lot of change. That is a huge change for a church and my prayers are with you as you go where God leads you in this. I appreciate your ‘Made to Stick’ references; I read that book years ago and still refer to it all the time because it made such a big impression on me on how to make our messages stick. Thanks for sharing today.

    • Sandra says

      Thanks for coming by, Lisa. This is the first study I’ve done with HCB, and I thought this book might be kind of dry. Ha! Was I wrong.

  7. Tami Heim says

    Love how faithful God is to show up when we need Him most. Oh how Christ loves His bride.
    New life always waits on the other side of change.
    Thanks for sharing this Sandy!
    Praying for for you church family as He brings you all closer to Him.
    LYI. /

  8. says

    Our old church would not cross this bridge and it died. I pray that this godly man will rely on God for the strength to see this through, and that your local body will see that to cut off any member is to cut off part of oneself. Would they so quickly amputate even a pinky finger?! Of how much more value is even one person than a little finger?!

    My love to you, Snady. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in your midst!

    • Sandra says

      Thanks, Anne. My love comes back to you. You are such a treasure, and I’m still basking in the spirit of Big Boy. :)

  9. says

    Wow, this hit home with me. We started with 2 services, both identical, then moved to 1 service that had a combo of traditional and contemporary music. There was so much grumbling… it’s too slow… it’s too fast. We eventually moved back to 2 services with the early being traditional and the late contemporary. People still complain. It truly is a heart issue. If you’re focused on the music and not just worshiping Jesus it’s time for a heart check. Your pastors faithful step in obedience will yield mighty blessings for your congregation! Awesome!!

  10. Sandra says

    Hi Heidi,

    You are so right. Divided hearts create chasms in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. says

    My heart breaks for your church. I can’t imagine the feeling of unstability. Yes, I said it. I’d be one of those people that are hurting… but I think a message like the one you heard would have put me at ease.

    I liked Glynn’s thought about spiritual suicide.

    This was a really great post. And I’m glad we’re family.

  12. says

    The Church in North America is facing similar challenges. God isn’t finished with us yet, thankfully. Prayers for you this day. And for your Family.

    • Sandra says

      I love God things the best! Thanks, again, for hostessing this carnival. Always food for the soul. I haven’t had a chance to “clean my plate” yet, though. Gotta get around to some other posts.

  13. says

    Such good and blessed thinking. We find it so easy to just separate ourselves from each other to make life more comfortable, when that’s not exactly what our Body is all about and used for. Relationships are the key to our Body and the world. Blessings.

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