Loving and prophetic communities have enough to deal with. Adding a bunch of gibberish doesn’t help. If you have an interpreter, great. Let your heart and spirit speak. If not, then wait. Listen. Connect. It may be that it is your time hear from the Spirit rather than speak.
We heard about the vision. A prophetic spark opened our eyes. We listened and interpreted for one another. The window opened and light shone upon our gifts for leadership. We could do this. We could reimagine standing at the crossroads and doing ministry. What we couldn’t yet do was interpret.
If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God.
I Corinthians 14: 27-28
Without an interpreter our congregation couldn’t understand us. We couldn’t translate the conversation that excited and energized us. We spoke in tongues, they heard gibberish. This was something we didn’t quite grasp at the time.
Our conversations began with the session. We explored the idea together. We imagined housing, a new church space, mixed retail, and a coffee shop sitting at our crossroads. Then we engaged an outside group to do a feasibility study. Our goal was to present the idea at our annual congregational meeting. We planned and practiced our presentation.
The clear message we received was a breath of fresh air. Our work as a session had new life and purpose. Build affordable housing. It couldn’t be any clearer. We ran the numbers and set the vision. Our small leadership team let the light in.
We thought we had it all figured out and were ready for anything.
Things rarely stay quiet in churches. Leading up to the congregational meeting our giddy chatter, spoken in tongues, increased. When the docket was announced, and we shared our vision. The floodgates opened. The warm light we experienced blinded others.
The congregation was angry and frustrated. It was a solution to an unknown problem. Our excitement fed their suspicions, and our hope inflamed their grief. The joy we felt was met with anger.
On the day of the congregational meeting, we never even took a vote. The uproar was so great we tabled the idea. We left the meeting licking our wounds. We wondered what was next, knowing that something had to change.
When there’s no one to interpret, it’s better to be quiet than speak in tongues. We’d failed to interpret, to find an interpreter. We spoke our language, our hopes, our dreams. Yet, it fell on deaf ears. The vision we felt from the Spirit blinded more people than it welcomed.
A church survives by cultivating the diverse talents of its congregation. Over time, these form our identity. We become what we do, and what we do shapes who we become. Discernment is about holding on and letting go. Our congregational identity determines how easy or hard that is.
As God continues to speak a new word, being prophetic requires us to listen. Vision and movement are valuable. Otherwise, we are left behind. It’s vital for a community to listen, learn, and discern together.
Church communities are filled with competing interests. We interpret Scripture differently. We have diverse gifts and talents. Our experiences of the world shape our faith and belief in God. All of this means that we don’t always see things the same way.
A church survives by cultivating the diverse talents of its congregation. Over time, these form our identity. We become what we do, and what we do shapes who we become. Discernment is about holding on and letting go. Our congregational identity determines how easy or hard that is. Prophetic visions matter. They shake us up and remind us who we are. Also, they help us shape the future if we are willing to listen.
A hard ‘no’ is hard to take. It required us to step back, regroup, and listen. It was tough. There were angry letters to leadership and the pastor. Voices that hadn’t darkened our doors in years made themselves known.
That congregational meeting was painful. However, it opened the window a crack. As the congregation’s eyes adjusted, they began to see that something needed to change. It was then that we decided some additional discernment was needed. It was time to talk about new beginnings.