Dear Brothers an Sisters in Christ,
Everything on Earth is rooted. Now that spring is breaking into our lives, we may be preparing to plant flower and vegetable plants in our gardens. Normally though I doubt we spend too much time thinking about the roots, only the beautiful foliage that those roots help to create. However, we do know that well established roots are needed for anything to grow. Roots though are not pretty to look at. They are long and stringy with many tentacles that reach deep into the soil to draw nutrients and water up to the plant above ground.
Human beings have roots, too. During one of the Lenten Study evenings, we talked about our roots, our family backgrounds. It was interesting to learn more about the people we came from and to see the roots of our ancestors crisscrossing our own. In the midst of these sharing moments, as well as, the sharing that goes on during our fellowship and worship times, we have grown deep roots that connect each of us to one another deep in our souls. A member mentioned to me recently that she could see how the congregation is more deeply rooted to one another. It may be that during my tenure, the congregation has come to understand that there is a need to continue to add to the root system by welcoming in new people to our faith community, as we did on Palm Sunday when three people professed and reaffirmed their faith in Jesus the Christ. The church is also, becoming more connected to the wider community through our food drives and support of organizations like the Brookhaven Pet Shelter.
Maybe, as roots are essential for plants to bear fruit, so we must have a strong root system to form deep and lasting relationships. These relationships continue on even when someone uproots and goes to plant new roots in another community. It is certainly true when we consider our relationship with our Creator, Redeemer and Encourager.
“Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.’ Colossians 2:7 (The Voice)
It seems as though the church I serve has strengthened their root system by not only growing in a deeper relationship with one another but with their Lord and Savior! This has caused them to be a stronger and more effective congregation. This reminds me of a book that I shared with this church early on in my ministry (See Pastor’s Letter – September 2012) with them. In the book “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” whereby the author lists them as:
- The Practice of Radical Hospitality
- The Practice of Passionate worship
- The practice of Intentional Faith
- The Practice of Risk-Taking Mission and Service
- The Practice of Extravagant Generosity
Robert Schnase writes, “Vibrant, fruitful, growing congregations don’t stop at practicing friendly hospitality, helpful service and mission, or prudent generosity. Their practices are extraordinary, exceptional, thorough, and extreme, they are radical, passionate, intentional, risk-taking, and extravagant. Effective congregations change, improve, learn, and adapt to fulfill their mission.”
It appears that this faith community has grown in their understanding of what it means to “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22). The key to revitalizing congregations could well be found in the root system of the congregation. A strong foundation needs to be established form which the congregation can grow in their relationships with one another so that they can bear good fruit beyond their walls.
I thank God for you,
Rev. Kathy Nealand
Minister of Revitalization