Asked to list their congregation’s top assets on a whiteboard, the leadership teams couldn’t write them fast enough: Gifted pastor, spacious and well-maintained building, loving people, visible location with plenty of parking, glorious sanctuary, generous endowment, superb music program, energetic youth group, engaged leaders, and so on.
The exercise kicked off a workshop on “asset mapping,” a tool that begins with congregational strengths. The enthusiastic teams took to the task with gusto but came up with remarkably similar lists.
Conspicuously absent from all the lists were several assets of highest value that, incredibly, all of the churches claimed later to possess: God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Gospel, the Bible, and the sacraments.
The question is why. Why wouldn’t these holy assets be first on the leaders’ minds?
After all, God forms the hub around which all of church life revolves. Churches exist for no other purposes than to bring people into connection with God’s transforming love, and then as sacred community to transform the world through God’s power and love.
To accomplish this, God has poured out the Holy Spirit to inflame and infuse the hearts of God’s people, and to nourish, lead and sustain the church. God has given churches powerful assets to achieve these purposes.
- The Bible teaches, guides, enriches and empowers us. Sacred Scripture is our source.
- The sacraments serve as outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual reality – God’s promise of love, forgiveness of sin, and salvation.
- Most powerful is the Gospel — the witness and message of Jesus, God made flesh, who came that we may know God and God’s priorities for us and our salvation.
These are our top assets, energizing our churches and providing purpose and direction. Without them, our churches are just social clubs of nice people who do nice things.
Going back to the question, why did the leadership teams not write these holy assets on the white board?
Perhaps these gifts are so deeply hard-wired into our church lives that they’re easy to forget – the way we so take for granted electricity for our buildings, or air and water for our bodies. It may be that in our constant struggle to maintain our buildings and grow our congregations, we simply forget God makes it all possible. Or, they simply need to repent (which means turn around), refocus on what is important, and let God’s spirit renew their hearts and communities.
So whether you are a pastor, a lay board leader, or a concerned congregant, and regardless of the challenges that face your congregation, remember that you have the universe’s most powerful assets at your disposal: God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Gospel, the Bible, and the sacraments.
©Copyright 2019, the Rev. Robert Blezard. All rights reserved.
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