Can’t see the Forest for the Trees

Over the last little bit of time, I have been in somewhat of a funk.  I really couldn’t have told you where all of it was coming from, nor do I think I know that now.  But I have gained some perspective tonight that encouraged and refreshed me.   See, I am employed by a church.  I am a minister on staff whose role is to help stimulate community and help the church in thinking about itself in relation to the world around it.   For those of you who know me personally, you might think…what a great job for Kelley; I have thought similarly.  Yet over the course of the last 6 months or so, I have slowly declined into the “funk” of which I spoke.

I see some of the source of my funk…though I am employed by a church,  there is much about “church” that I don’t like. As a Christian minister, one would think that I would be gung-ho about the organization or institution that we call Church. But in reality, I see a lot of self preservation at the heart of the institution, which we call “mission.” This has always been a struggle for me. I will not go into the specifics of that frustration, nor do I claim to be a purist in my own religion and faith. But while church has occupied a special place in history and in my life, it is very much a love-hate relationship at times.

Now I am sure that I am not alone in this sentiment, in fact I know of many pastors, ministers etc., who share my frustration or at least something similar. So this is no epiphany. But tonight, I attended an “emergent cohort” meeting. I belong to this gathering of people who meet monthly to discuss faith, questions and a book we have been reading on that topic. Previously, I have been quite regular in this group but in the last 5-6 months I have only attended once because of scheduling conflicts. I often think, I will pull back from this group…it is an expenditure of my time that I can’t afford in all that I have to do. When I do attend, I always come away encouraged because there are people there who are struggling and wrestling with similar issues about this institution we term Church…and the faith that is supposed to undergird it.

Previous to this evenings gathering, I was feeling quite “crispy” regarding my association with “church.” I felt trapped and having no place to go. Yet I realized that many feel the same struggle as they attempt to follow their heart and their faith in an era of massive cultural shift. I found as I spoke with friends and peers that I was not alone. And then it I saw it…I am not comfortable in Church because Church has a lot of disjunctions that exist…similar to any ideological group today. I had lost sight of the forest because of the trees that are a part of my daily view. But in reality , I would be in a far worse state, if I didn’t have serious frustrations with church, if I weren’t aware that there is much change that communities of faith need to navigate in order to remain vibrant, authentic expressions of faith in the real world in which we all tread each day. Needs and frustrations point to elements of value in which we can invest. It is easy to forget that truth and to become mired in all of the “stuff”, forgetting the forest toward which we travel…because we have become tangled in the trees where we are.

Lord help us see and love the forest and the trees.

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One thought on “Can’t see the Forest for the Trees

  1. Helpful reflections, Kelley. It speaks to me about constant tension between our inspiration/calling to be true Christian community versus our human tendency to build and sustain self-serving organizations. We gotta have some level of organization and common elements around which to gather, but we gotta stay vigilant that our call to be Christian community is always bigger than our attempt to sustain/perpetuate the organization. So I look at it like we have to do what we can, aware of our brokenness, and hope that God can find something useful in our efforts clean up whatever we’ve messed up.

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