What kind of Church does God need?

Thus, the Church is founded on Christ. It is His Church, the response to His call, the obedience to His will. It is important to keep this in mind, because Christians themselves often forget and being to view the Church as “theirs,” as an organization essentially called to serve them, to satisfy their spiritual and non-spiritual needs and demands. Yet the very word Church shows above all that is the union of those who are called to serve Christ, and to continue His work. It is service not to self but to God. ~Alexander Schmemann, Celebration of Faith, vol. I (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1991), p. 116.

This General Convention will no doubt see a flurry of activity about restructuring and much wrangling about the budget. All parties will play lip service to being mission-driven. There will be, as there already have been, a number of charges and counter-charges about who is giving into anxiety, resisting necessary change, and preserving a deadly status quo.

These words from Fr. Alexander Schmemann challenge us to a wider perspective. What would happen if we really did what we say we do at General Convention and prayed and listened for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

I submit that the Spirit would draw us deeper into the mission and ministry of Christ, calling us to forms of dying and rising that we have scarcely begun to imagine.

But this will only happen to the extent that we all remember that the Church belongs not to us but to God…and remain open to deeper conversion to each other and the world for which our Lord gave his life. It will necessarily involve renunciation of privilege and power and renewed dedication to the teaching and example of the Lord Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve.

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as rector of Emmanuel Parish, Shawnee in the Diocese of Oklahoma. His new parish blog is Emmanuel Shawnee Blog

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