Short of a log thrown down across a creek, bridges are a construction of many elements, each one working with the others to support the whole structure. No single beam or cable can carry the full weight. Together, though, we’ve all seen how the span of intertwined parts is strong and graceful. The same is true for a congregation traveling the Interim Bridge.
The Interim Minister is most definitely not the bridge across the expanse of time until the next Senior Minister is called. The Interim Minister is one component. I know you know this, but it helps to point out this fact. I’ll add all my 5-foot 9-inch frame can offer, but that doesn’t begin to reach nearly high nor far enough. (We won’t go into the matter of circumference…not relevant to this conversation.)
You are an essential part of forming the bridge the UBC family needs to successfully cross the interim time. How many things I could list that I might wish to ask you to contribute! You may think it’s got to be some part of the usual three-point stewardship pitch: time, talents, and money. As tempting as this trinity of institutional self-reliance can be, these are what any secular nonprofit group might ask of you. So, no, I’m not talking about the stewardship of your stuff.
What your church needs from you is the stewardship of your Christ-self. “Christ-self” is not a Baptist word, so allow me to go on. What I need and ask of you in these transition months is your witness as you yourself experience and know Christ. No one else can take your place. Your absence means that something essential goes missing from the bridge; it cannot be as strong, nor as graceful. Seriously. We suffer from your absence.
Christ is not into emailing, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Linked-Ining, any more than Christ was into printing presses, mimeograph machines, rotary phones, or IBM Selectrics (although those Selectrics were pretty sweet machines when they came out). Christ is into you: “you in Christ and Christ in you” is our Lord’s one and only Plan A. Period.
All else are mere tools of a moment, as dated as last year’s software and as short-lived as this year’s tradeshow guru. What is eternal, what is of lasting worth, is you. For now, I’ll simply list two foundational elements of your Christ-self we need here to make UBC’s Interim Bridge work. I’ll expand on these in next week’s Word:
Your Faithful and Honest Witness, Shared Responsibly;
Your Continuity and Your Creativity
~Your Senior Minister in the Interim,