A message from Pastor Rick Hill
The whole world spinnin’ on a journey through space and nothin’ I know of ever stays in one place.
“Everything Changes” by Rick Hill
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ –Deuteronomy 31:7-8
The earth is spinning at about 1,000 miles per hour. The earth is hurtling through space at about 67,000 miles per hour. Our solar system is blazing through the universe at about 490,000 miles per hour. So, every hour we are travelling close to 560,000 miles! And yet, I can go out in my backyard and gaze at the mountains and feel as though the world has stopped. Moses led Israel for a bit over 40 years. He was a good leader. He put up with a lot of nonsense – doubt in his abilities, unfaithfulness to God, whining and complaining. But he led through a time of training and preparation. But he was not the man to lead them into the Promised Land. They would need someone different with different abilities, a different temperament. Joshua was the one God had prepared for the job. He had served as Moses’ assistant for all those years and now he was ready to step up to the key position.
I have known all along that my time with you would be short. It ended up being a year longer than I planned. I saw my job as one of preparation – moving you folks closer to what I think a successful church needs to look like. It is my strong belief that the church of the 21st century needs to look a lot like the church of the 1st Century. There are a tremendous number of parallels between the 1st Century Roman Empire and the 21st Century American empire. The church thrived and grew in the first century using models of small “house churches” with strong lay leadership and itinerant pastors. I believe that is the direction we should be headed in the 21st Century. Big institutional churches are dropping like flies. Churches that have a clear sense of purpose and strong lay leaders are flourishing.
Over the past four years I have emphasized four “mantras.”
“You become what you think about.” If you think this organization is worthless, that is exactly what it will be. If you believe this organization is an invaluable foundation for all of life’s activities then that is what it will be. What do you believe? Is that belief just words or is it put into action?
“Every organization is designed to get the results it is getting.” To spend an hour every week staring at the back of someone’s head is not a good way to build community. That is a part of the church’s design. And there are many other designs that keep us from becoming the organization God intends us to be.
“Impact drives income.” This is not just financial income. It is resource income, membership income, talent income. Every organization (and this includes Rotary, Lions, Scouts, et al) that is having a positive impact in the community will also generate all those different kinds of income.
“Fulfillment comes from the progressive realization of worthwhile goals.” The major reason for people burning out and dropping out of organizations is the lack of fulfillment. We want to know we are making progress on something that is of value – to ourselves and to the larger community. People in my generation are dropping out of churches because they have been working in them for 30-40-50 years and the church hasn’t moved an inch. We are still dealing with the same problems we had when we were teenagers! The same controversies, the same roadblocks.
With my departure, a number of doors have opened – not just one. I would suggest that you read the book of Acts and then dig into what the 1st century church really looked like, how it operated, what impact it had on the various communities. I would suggest that you have ongoing, deep discussions about the four mantras and what they mean for the life of these congregations. I would suggest that, if you like the way I did things, you emulate that and figure out how you, also, continue on the path.
In the last chapters of Deuteronomy and the opening chapter of Joshua, God instructed the leaders to be “bold and courageous.” The phrase appears over and over again. I would instruct you likewise.
Be bold – do things differently, take a radical new path. Experiment.
Be courageous – do not be afraid of individuals, of institutions.
In all things be faithful. God has promised to be with you always. Be always with God.