About 8 months ago, our church discovered that the multipurpose room we were meeting in (I call it a sanctuasium) was structurally unsafe. See, our meeting space is a pole building design and the posts that are holding everything up were rotten. So in a matter one week, we had to move our entire worship service out into the Fellowship Hall.
Luckily, we have a Fellowship Hall that is large enough where we can squish everything and cram everyone for a worship service. It took a lot of effort, but one Sunday we were in our sanctuasium and the next Sunday we were in our Fellowship Hall. Now, a lot could be said on the flexibility needed just to make that transition. A lot could be said on how it brought our worship teams and leadership teams together as we all worked really hard to make the move happen.
But the reality is, that initial move was fun and exciting. Kind of different and fresh. People initially got energized because it felt new and we all felt like we were “in this together”. Then the bombshell: the plans we submitted to the county for permits was not going through. What should have been a 3 month construction project is going on 8 months… and still no permits! We haven’t even begun construction yet!
What once was fun and exciting was now becoming tedious and annoying. The energy and freshness had given way to a sense of toiling and drudging. And in that moment, our worship ministry, our leadership team, our church had an important decision. Were we going to whine and complain and begrudge the fact we were “stuck” in this smaller, cramped Fellowship Hall? Or were we going to be flexible and “roll with the punches”?
We made a deliberate, conscious decision as a church that we were going to trust God and give praise to God and use this insane permit delay as an opportunity for God to build character in us as a church. And do you know what happened? He did! In the midst of all that flexibility, something grew and something amazing came out: unity.
Our church has come together and we have seen a greater sense of unity then I ever could have imagined. Our prayer times have increased. Our attendance has increased. Our giving has increased. Our baptisms have increased. Even our families have increased (5 ladies in our church are currently pregnant!)
Now I’m not at all saying you have to experience dramatic situations like being kicked out of your meeting space in order to see unity. Or even that if you are flexible then you will gurantee that your church’s attendance and giving will increase. But what I am saying is that there is incredible opportunity for unity and growth that comes out of hardship. That when you as a leader and a church decide you’re going to be flexible and trust in God, it really does build character.
I believe that all of us in ministry face opportunities to be flexible. Most of them are not big things; lots of small ways to be flexible and work together. But even those small things can lead to greater unity. You don’t need to have a gigantic situation in order to be flexible and in order to see opportunities for unity.
So my challenge for you is simply this: look for the small (and perhaps even big) ways that you can be flexible. Maybe it’s a relationship tension on your worship team. Maybe it’s a song that so many people connect with but you can’t stand. Maybe it’s being okay when the service runs longer than expected. Whatever it is, look for that flexibility. And then watch for the ways that God builds character and unity in His church.