Word of the Week

Committing to Our Future

This was the theme of the service yesterday as we came together as a congregation to pledge for the upcoming year what our contributions of time, talent and finances might be. We talked a lot about how what we do now, has a lot to say about what we believe the future will look like.  If we have low expectations now, then how can we expect great things in the future?

Lovett Weems in his book on church leadership, Take the Next Step talks about how leaders must be able to see, touch and even smell what the vision looks like.

I don't often like to talk about vision in specific terms because solo discernment can be dangerous. Pastors who go out in the woods for a week and come back with "This is what the Lord told me" can lead to all kinds of really bad decisions. (Seen a pastor on the news lately?)

Discernment and vision after all, I believe are communal tasks.  If I said this is where "Pastor Elizabeth" wants the church to go and "This is what we are going to do or else," then what would happen if I was not around anymore for some reason? It would fail.  Dreams that become a reality are those which many are invested in and come out of the personality of the group of people.

Yet at the same time, Lovett's words challenged me again this week. I felt convicted to paint a stronger picture of what the future might hold for us. If I didn't see what the future would look like, how could expect others to make hopeful investments?

I know that I am a leader of this congregation. The call of a leader is to motivate, inspire and be willing to say aloud what they see. The essence of what it means to be a leader is actually doing something-- not just maintaining status quo.  So, with humility, I suggested that these are things that I want to see more of in our future. I share them again here with hopes that the "dream" conversation will continue even long past stewardship month . . .

But when I think about the future of Washington Plaza, I’m not worried by all stories that have defined us in the past.

What I see is all of the pews of this congregation being filled with our friends and neighbors and those we don’t even know yet, but who will bring great gifts to our community that will send us forth into greater ministry-- starting partnerships with other organizations so our reach in service go way beyond our current capacity.

I see a congregation full more diverse life stories, experiences and political views, yet joined together on Sunday mornings and throughout the week in a desire to learn how to be a Christ’s community. I see multiple services in our future because our current worship space can't hold all the attendees.

I see our activities and ministries stemming out of our current facility—into the one acre of land behind our property and into the unused buildings on Lake Anne Plaza.

I hear people from all around the Northern VA community talking about that church on Lake Anne Plaza--- how loving our community is, how great our programming for families, troubled youth, and persons who thought the church was never going to be for them, and how God is doing a beautiful thing in our worship time together each Sunday morning.

I see a pick-up van system at the new metro on Wiehle Ave—bringing groups of people from other parts of the city to our worship on Sunday mornings.

Don't you see it too? If you do, pray for me and pray for us as a church.

In the next year, one of our major goals is to keep building and strengthening our infrastructure internally so that we can build the bridges to make big dreams like these a reality. It's a hopeful future we're committed to!