Thursday, January 11, 2018

Annual Report - 2017

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)




As I’ve been saying/writing/salting for a dozen years or so, trees fall and forests vanish for the very few who actually read church annual reports.

Annual reports, especially by clergy and other politicians, usually fall into four categories with a nod to my redundancy:

  • See how great we are!

  • Send lawyers, guns, and money in a Warren Zevon kinda way!

  • Everything’s horrible because of you/me/us/them!

  • Though we’re getting better and not as bad as most in the neighborhood and we’d rather the toothy guy in Texas who says nothing eloquently to anesthetize us to Jesus by the book than the guy who’s still hangin’ in with us because he loves us to death, we’ve got to be careful of people looking for a champion, paramour, errand boy for wandering desires, BFF, or someone who will agree with the last person that he’s talked to like a bad sentence ending in a preposition, our next Pastor Search Committee will say everything’s gonna be really great until we start treating the next one like we did the last one!


Not really.

Got this thing about salt, light, and leaven; and will keep on keepin’ on with what I believe to be His salt, light, and leaven until proven otherwise by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense.

That’s authentically true love.

Posing love is telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear according to Jesus by the book; or as Frederick Buechner wrote, “The preacher pulls the little cord that turns on the lectern light and deals out his note cards like a riverboat gambler.  The stakes have never been higher…A prophet’s quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover’s quarrel.  If they didn’t love the world, they probably wouldn’t bother to tell it that it’s going to hell.  They’d just let it go.”

Though exponentially more sinfully inclined than Paul not to mention Jesus because He, unlike us or anyone else, is pure and perfect in every way, I’m kinda like them when it comes to the past and annual reports (viz., Matthew 5:25-34; 9:15-17; Philippians 3:10-14).

Simply, while thanking God for last year(s) and the privilege to build upon the best of the past for a more faith-filled future, we look forward to new opportunities than back at our, uh, behinds.

So here are few inspirations/indigestions – You decide! – about what’s ahead:

We must model Someone better!  That means following
His pattern in Jesus and prescriptions in the Bible with
grace, mercy, forgiveness, and agape to restore
relationships in an increasingly segregating, discriminating,
demeaning, and degrading world, country, and wherever
two or three are not always gathered in His name.

Longing for the way things never were or maybe were but are
no more is unfaithful yet seductively delusional.  With no
apologies to dispensationalists, the “church age” is over.
Churches will never be what they were in America.  Finances
are shrinking with millennials, Gen Xers, and most Baby
Boomers seeing “Church” as discretionary not obligatory.
In other words, we will be expected to do more with less.

Denominations have decreasing appeal for true believers.
While those of us who were saved and nurtured in them
continue to herald their efficacies, we are a decreasing
minority.  I see parochial partnerships becoming less and
less and less attractive/viable as they are replaced by
ecumenical networks of common ideology and sometimes

While I’ll never be as astute as Don Norek when it comes to
eschatology, I believe we are in the last days in a Matthew 24,
Mark 13, and Luke 21 kinda way without too much reference
to John’s apocalypse that Calvin and Luther couldn’t figure
out either.  Moretheless, the particulars are not as important
as the ultimate victory of Jesus that inspires us to live
triumphantly amid the meanness, madness, misery, and
miscreance of these days.  Living in the assurance of
eternal paradise by grace through faith in Jesus enables
our strong calm sanity to press on with confidence,
courage, and contagion.

Within the undershepherding context of Matthew 10:16, MLK, Jr. still speaks for women and men praying and laboring to be His in hostile cultures: “Well, I don’t know what will happen now.  We’ve got some difficult days ahead.  But it doesn’t matter with me now.  Because I’ve been to the mountaintop.  And I don’t mind.  Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…But I’m not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know…I’m not worried about anything.  I’m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

As King would say, we have increasing “strength to love” each other and others as loving Him because of increasing intimacy with Him (see Philippians 4:8-13).

Knowing the end of the story compels our confidence, courage, and contagion in the meantime.

Blessings and Love,


Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!




JP said...

Disturbing Disclosure, I would say!

Robert said...

Good word, especially with MLK day next Monday. I hated annual report messages I had to write, except the years we were building/occupying our new addition or adding/deleting my pastoral assistant And Trump with the s***holes comment speaks for many of us re: immigration. It’s just that he’s cruder and not “smoothly eloquent about nothing” as were BO & toothy guy Come, Lord Jesus!

Bill said...

I vote for #1