Sunday, August 01, 2004

Newsletter: Is the Honeymoon Over?

“The honeymoon is over.” A few weeks ago, a colleague in ministry gave me this advice. He noted that beginning in August, I’ve been here at First Presbyterian for one year. He wanted me to know that things will soon be changing. He told me ominously, “They are not going to let you get away with as much as you did before.” I responded, “That may be true, but it also means that I won’t let them get away with as much as they did before.”

I have often heard others use the honeymoon analogy when speaking of pastors and their congregations. Many have noted that the excitement of the wedding day soon gives way to the monotony of married life. Likewise, the novelty of a new pastor and a new congregation wears off. Relationships from time to time grow stale. Conflicts once considered insignificant begin to divide and conquer.

Although many have observed these things, both in marriages and in congregations, I wonder why we should expect them as inevitable. True, sin is pervasive, but our God is stronger than entropy. Healthy relationships in marriages and in congregations grow, develop, and mature.
In the past year, my role has been something of a cheerleader. The world needs to know what a wonderful congregation we have. We are hungry for God, and we desire to show his love to the world. We don’t say this for our benefit, but we say it to give witness to the glory of God. We also don’t say this arrogantly. We realize that we still have much to accomplish. In the coming years, our hope is that our worship will become more vibrant, our knowledge of God will grow, our love for God and each other will become more apparent, and our witness to God’s good news will become more bold.

How do we stay out of a rut? The Scriptures use the analogy of marriage, not to explain the relationship of pastor and congregation, rather to understand Christ’s relationship to the Church. The Church is the bride of Christ (2 Cor 11:2, Rev 21:2, etc). Our relationship with the living Savior leads to enlivening relationships with each other. As Jesus himself said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God is not fished with us yet. The honeymoon is far from over.

Grace & Peace,

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