Olivet will hold our annual Charge Conference on November 7 which is kind of like a church business meeting.. which had me wondering about a question posed by author Kirk Hadoway, who wrote, Behold, I Do a New Thing, Transforming Communities of Faith. He suggests that churches should ask themselves, “What business are we in?”
Unfortunately, the term “business” brings to mind an exchange of money for goods or services, which doesn’t fit the nature of the church. But if we widen our understanding of business as more than an economic system, we might see our business as discipleship, mission or ministry to the community.
As your pastor, when I ponder what kind of business Olivet Church is in, my hope is that Olivet Church is in a business of grace. We are in the business of offering God’s free grace to all. We don’t exist for ourselves – we exist for others.
This stands in contrast to the world which is “in the business” of celebrating the self and the success of rising to the top. Popular reality television shows are in the business of placing conflict on center stage. But the church is in the business of celebrating the One who emptied himself in peace and humility.
A member of Olivet appreciatively remarked on how Olivet is a place of grace. He said, it was the “one place in my life where all the other stuff (job success, family success, keeping up with the Jones’) doesn’t matter.” To be in the business of grace means loving people where they are.
A business of grace doesn’t take pride in itself because the work of the church is about glorifying Christ.
We work together in ministry in order to be the Body of Christ for others. Not to make a name for ourselves. In this sense, a church is very different from any other business. To be a business of grace means that, at the center of all we do is not personal ego… but the Living Christ glorified. This last year, we met some challenges, conflicts and times of tough problem-solving. What brought us through these moments was the humility that our work is not our own. Grace met us in those times and supplied us with creative solutions and new avenues.
Letting go of the trappings of ego and surrendering to the movement of God who continually makes all things new is the challenge of being committed Christians. Whenever we forget that Olivet’s work is about relying on God’s grace, we get caught up in snares.
Grace is what “equips the called” which is opposite of what we usually assume, namely that grace “calls the equipped.” Ordinary folk working together in the name of Christ is what transforms lives and communities.
This last year, I witnessed persons trust the grace of God as they step forward to lend a hand, start a new ministry, join a small group or further their education. I saw God’s grace at work, when we collaborated with St. Paul’s, Eastern and St. Johns and other area churches in putting together the Youth Worship Nights and the outdoor drama of The Passion. Every venture was a step out of our comfort zone, with a certain trust that God would strengthen us.
In November, area churches will partner in ministry to transform the lives of persons in our county. The second week of November, we are participating in the Safe Nights program at Middleham Chapel. On Nov. 15th at 5pm, Olivet and Solomons UMC are co-sponsoring a Christmas Concert by the Community Chorus which raises funds and awareness for Hospice. Also for Hospice, I encourage you to attend the Festival of the Trees on Saturday, November 28 at Huntingtown High School to see all the trees including the one that Olivet has crafted featuring handmade ornaments. (see page 2)
At Olivet, my hope is that we continue to be in the business of grace – both for personal transformation and the transformation of our world. At the end of our worship services, we receive the benediction of grace to remind us that as we leave, we are not alone. We go in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and we are sent out to a world that challenges us to model Jesus’ love and service to neighbors, family or coworkers.
Yet, as we scatter off into our daily lives, we never face it alone. We have each other and we have God’s grace to meet every moment