With a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and awe the people at Cross Connection EMC in Chilliwack, BC are on the threshold of something new. In a day when many are wishing that things at church would just get back to normal, this congregation has sensed God wants to do a new thing, in themselves, and as a local church.
“We’re used to doing things a certain way because it makes sense to us, but we should be all about doing it God’s way,” says Pastor Rob Campbell.
The Chilliwack congregation had just come through a weekend of prayer, seeking God’s face and asking two questions: what does God want to transform in me?, and what does God want to transform in our church? Health guidelines in place, the church building was open Friday evening, and all day Saturday for people to come when they wished. Prayer stations One to Five were labelled: Spiritual Gifts, Identity, Confession, Communion, and Transformation. Beginning at Station One, participants moved through at their own pace, reading the material posted at each station for reflection, and then praying. At the fifth station, they were invited to write down what they discerned about church transformation and leave it behind. Reflecting on the weekend, member Krista Bennett says, “God is faithful to speak when his people posture themselves to listen.”
During sharing on Sunday, Isaiah 43:18-19 came as a word to the congregation from two individuals:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
In response, Pastor Rob says, “Please don’t let me miss what You’re saying to me in this time.” He acknowledges that no change is ever comfortable but affirms that it is in the difficulties and suffering that God transforms each one into the soul that reflects Him best.
Pastor Rob was reminded of a recent comment about the Israelites made by pastoral colleague Christine Waring, who noted that when the Egyptians were freed from Egypt they didn’t accept their new reality. Their refusal to step into freedom in the Promised Land resulted in 40 years in the wilderness.
“How badly do we want change?” asks Pastor Rob. “There will be bumps to be reckoned with. We can all accept the invitation to change, or resist it. The Bible is full of stories of people who were given a chance to follow, or not. When they followed, life came.”
The pastors and several from the congregation will meet again to seek God for vision and first steps. “We need to be sure we are seeking the life-giver Himself, and not expecting our systems to lead us where God wants us to be.”
Some things will be left behind and new ways of ministry will emerge. “We all have gifts but only a few are using them when we meet together for worship. We all need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Looking ahead, Pastor Rob says, “It’s time to chase after Jesus with all that’s within. We are done with the old. We want to live in a long season of freedom.”