Synod 2023 – Blessing In A Time Of Leaving
Published by Jul Medenblik
Last week, we repeated the Synod 2022 Medenblog that focused on the “Day After Synod” as the most important day of Synod. You can read it here.
This blog comes from the after-dinner conversation that I had with a group of ministry leaders in Pella, Iowa this past spring. In Pella, the leaving of a majority of Reformed Church of America (RCA) churches from the RCA denomination has already occurred.
Pella, Iowa, has seen church splits and challenges over many years. Even when such events occur, people will see each other at the grocery store, the annual Tulip Time festival as well as local school activities as people cheer on their children and grandchildren.
What do you do when the specter of churches leaving and church splits comes close again?
In that conversation, I asked those gathered if people had ever left their churches before and we all raised our hands. All of us in the room and I would predict that every reader of this blog has had people leave their ministry at some point.
What did you do then?
I shared that at the church plant where Jackie and I had ministered that we had to find language for those moments that would help not only those who left, but also those who stayed.
We wanted to find a way to illustrate what we needed to develop as a type of heart muscle for a Biblical response in a time of grief, loss and pain.
At New Life, we developed the phrase – “Bless Them When They Come. Bless Them When They Leave Because You Never Know When They May Come Back!”
You may wonder about the effectiveness of using such a phrase, but I would argue that the emphasis on “blessing” was the right one – then and now.
As a denomination, we are going through a time of present and anticipated grief, loss and pain. There have been churches and people that have already left and there may be even more following Synod 2023.
At this time, I invite us to follow these heart muscle movements in response:
- Thank God for blessing the CRCNA with many gifted people, churches and ministries. We have been blessed to be a blessing together and that still is occurring and can occur by God’s grace.
- Bless people by seeing them and thanking them for their ministry even in times of parting and separation. May we have tears in our eyes that help recognize this spiritually impactful moment that will affect generations. As we all know, this is not about “winners” and “losers.”
- Keep a sense of longing for return and reconciliation in your heart. If this is not about “winners” and “losers,” it is about being witnesses to God and for God. In some ways, we are all prodigal children who need to return to an always faithful and forgiving Father. May our actions and words recognize that humility is a key feature of discipleship in following Jesus – together!
Blessings always – Jul
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