Blowing in the Breeze – Counting the Cost – Building on the Rock

8The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone who has been born of the spirit. — John 3:8

28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? — Luke 14:28 (WEB)

25The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. — Matthew 7:25 (WEB)

Today I attended a new service at our church, First United Methodist Church of Pensacola.  It’s called ICON, an interesting name, but I’m not going to go into the reason for the name.  Go to the church web site and learn about it.

I’m also not going to talk that much about the worship.  Doubtless a number of my friends will do so, and there’s plenty for them to talk about.  The service was certainly everything I expected, with the only glitches provided by an excess of success–80 people had to be turned away to the other service due to lack of space.  Patience was needed when going for communion because of the large number of people.

And that is something that struck me most forcefully.  I have been involved in many church activities, some of them successful, some of them pretty dismal.  It’s easy to excuse ourselves and explain that we’re just doing what God wants us to do.  We claim–I have claimed!–not to care about the numbers, but most of us do–I do.

What struck me in this service is that it combines the elements of the three texts that I have quoted:

  1. There was the leading of the Spirit and stepping out in faith involved in the idea for the service, for purchasing the building, and for carrying on through all the trials.
  2. There was a counting of the cost as the First UMC collected pledges of support before actually closing on the building.
  3. There is building on the rock as every effort is made to produce a service that centers on Christ and thus brings people to Christ.

Is this a remarkable thing?  Well, in my experience it is.  The folks who blow in the breeze, by which I mean nothing negative and much positive, often have very little patience for counting the cost and taking the time necessary to make something work.  The Spirit leads us to have a praise service, and we want one next week.  Gather the instruments available, choose a room that already exists, grab some surplus equipment, phone a few friends, and see who shows up.

Now there’s nothing wrong with a few small praise services that come together in that fashion.  But too many of them become dead ends that last only a few weeks.  Nobody has the patience to go to the next step.

We have many negative names for people who count the cost.  “Bean counters” is one of them.  These are the people who do the spreadsheets, figure out how much money is required.  Those who blow in the breeze are frequently very impatient with these folks because they shoot down too many ideas.  But we need the bean counters.  Jesus reminds us that people who build towers get them involved before they start.  Bean counters get annoyed at those who blow in the breeze, because they have too many expensive ideas and don’t seem to realize the limitations.

There’s nothing wrong with realizing the limitations, but the bean counters need to listen to the folks who blow in the breeze, because otherwise they may soon find that there’s no beans to count.

Finally there are the builders.  One man was honored today who saw to making the physical building happen, to making the room come together and everything happen together.  He couldn’t be someone who blows in the breeze.  I doubt he’s that interested in being a bean counter.  He takes the ideas and the stuff and puts them together to make things happen.

Who is better?  Who is more important?  Nobody!  All of these are people who are necessary in the building of God’s kingdom.  They are represented in different measures by the artists, musicians, readers, ushers, folks manning projectors, sound boards, and cameras.  All of them are among the folks who gathered in the new sanctuary, new ground claimed for God’s kingdom, and praised God together in new ways, old ways, and ancient ways.

All are necessary.  My vision today in the service was not one of how you run a service, or which style of worship was more important, but the way in which you can bring God’s people together, with varied talents and personalities, blowing in the breeze, in the back room counting the cost, or up on the scaffolding making the right nuts and bolts come together.

Today I saw a vision of the body of Christ!  May I see many more!

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One Response to Blowing in the Breeze – Counting the Cost – Building on the Rock

  1. Pingback: Threads from Henry’s Web » First UMC ICON Service

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