The essential benefit of a single board driven by Spirit and Vision is action. Too often church congregations become bogged down in a process that is intended to give voice to all persons and to maintain a kind of peace in the congregation that helps to prevent social inhibitors. Unfortunately, this most often results in vision/mission inhibitors. The bold move made by Corinth Church marks a greater commitment to vision and mission. That is not to say there will be no commitment to the social aspects of church life, but they will be measured against the vision.
Moving in this direction did not come without fear and angst. There were times when too many detail questions could not be adequately answered and faith was in short supply – faith in each other and faith in the LORD. It was a journey reminiscent of the Israelite passage from slavery to the Promised Land.
- At times their spiritual leader lacked confidence and became impatient. (Ex. 3:6-12; 32:19)
- Some persons were dissatisfied with the slow pace and lack of faith of others. (Numbers 14:6–9)
- Some were comfortable with slavery’s knowns. (Exodus 16:2-3)
- Some feared and resented the apparent power shift they perceived. (Numbers 12:1-15)
Now that Corinth has moved from one way to another, effective January 1, 2016, there is more work to be done and the success of the new is as dependent upon faith, courage, and love for one another as the old. As the congregation gathered at the Lord’s Table and joined in World Communion Sunday Psalm 124 was read and the preeminence of the LORD’s provision was celebrated – “Let Israel say, `if the LORD had not been on our side’”.
Again, the similarity to Israel’s journey is easily seen. The Israelites saw an entire generation die in the wilderness and those who followed them marched into the Promised Land. Even in the Promised Land they would face fearful obstacles, descent, and temptation. It took patience, wisdom, and perseverance to build a nation. It will take the same qualities to build a new Corinth Church on the firm foundation of the former. Moses sought the LORD’s guidance and with the Spirit appointed people of faith and maturity to guide the tribes. In the same way our Nominations and Lay Leadership Development team has sought the leaders of the inaugural Governance Board. In the years ahead the LORD will raise up elders in our midst who will continue the process and the journey. Much of what is done over the next few years will not be fully understood until future generations have lived into it.
The Corinth Community is dedicated to the Vision and the Holy Spirit, but the real proof is in engagement. Support for the decisions made now will mean little if not equally upheld by active participation and financial support. Establishment of the Governance Board is only one part of the Fruitful Congregation’s Journey. We have established and must implement the Discipleship Pathway, but who will enter the path and see it through? We are completing the community outreach plan and then must implement it, but who will see it through? We are completing the buildings and grounds assessment for fulfillment of the Vision, Pathway, and Outreach, but how will we pay for expensive upgrades and expansion? Do the people of Corinth Church understand that they are called by the LORD just as the pastor and leaders are? Will they live into their salvation and new birth as Spirit-filled Disciples of Christ?
The Bible tells the story of a nation established by and devoted to God; living into its salvation by taking risks, walking in faith with called leaders, and living out the LORD’s justice and grace. When the nation did so it was blessed. When the nation’s leaders were unjust and proud the people followed them as the nation faltered and failed.
Now is the time to press forward toward the promise of blessing and Spirit-led discipleship. It is time to put behind the slavery and oppression of self-centered religion; the sins of the wilderness, and the fears of the unknowns. It is time to remember who Corinth is in the LORD and the many acts of power, mercy, and grace the LORD has granted. Now is the time to be for our community what Israel has been for the World – From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth (Psalm 50-2).