Photo vs film? How do you see your congregation?

Our church is what it is the moment you joined it. At that moment you agree that you accept it and it accepts you. After all, who joins a church for “where it is going”? People join a church for “where it is” socially, culturally, theologically, spiritually, and physically. From that point on, any change, difference of opinion, or adaptation to circumstances means a derivation of what you both agreed to on the day you joined. And if all parties don’t agree, then obviously they have the option of leaving. No one is forced to stay.

I like to think of that moment as a photograph. A beautiful photograph capturing a special moment. A moment now locked in time and not able to be changed. And a picture is further limited. You can’t look just outside the frame or see what is going on behind the camera. Nothing comes or goes from a picture.But, we need to stop dwelling on those photographs. They are beautiful, informative, and fun to reminisce about but their limitations limit us. We need to start filming movies. We need to tell stories over time with actors and occasionally a plot twist. Your opinions of characters, ideas, and sub-plots change as the movie goes on. A movies is constantly full of new revelations about characters, places, sub-plots, and even the main story often from places outside of the view of the first camera angle.

Our church story never ends and we try to keep it constantly moving towards a happy ending. Our members should all be actors not bystanders or extras. We all need to take a role and help work towards that happy ending. Use our photographs to look back and tell the back story in the movie but we won’t spend the whole movie staring at them.

Pictures are worth a thousand words but they are words locked in time. We need to think of our church as a ongoing movie to which we are walking into as actors. We are not limited by a single photograph of ourselves (we all had that awkward phase) why should our church be? When we constantly try to keep only that first photograph as our view of the church, we not only limit the church, we limit ourselves and our own opportunities for growth.