Navigating through any significant change, even ones that a congregation needs, can be a fascinating adventure. I was looking at a photo of a church I served some years ago and as I looked, memories flooded into my mind. One in particular of a gift that became a great blessing after a turbulent year of “parking lot” changes.
This church was old, dating to the 1700’s and still used outhouses as there was no indoor plumbing. They had been years talking about building an addition with bathrooms, a kitchen and a parish hall. They even had architectural drawings and without any decision had several thousand dollars in donations to build it. When I arrived we continued the conversation for two or three years before I applied for and received a significant grant to help us. The stipulation was that we had to take action within one year. The one catch was that the congregation would have to accept some of the financial responsibility and commitment to this large building project.
We had leadership meetings and formulated plans and were in complete agreement, until the next morning after everyone who wasn’t part of the meeting got involved in the “parking lot” discussion. Seven months after receiving the grant we all thought it would be lost because no one, it seemed, could come to an agreement that lasted more than a day. Learning to navigate the “parking lot” conversations, learning how to involve and value everyone, eventually led to a new addition with running water and meeting space and a renewed congregation.