I am officially moving to a new church. For those of your unfamiliar with Methodism, this is a thing that happens. Methodist pastors are appointed a year at a time at the discretion of our Bishop. While we rarely get moved after only a year, we do move quite regularly. This year it’s my turn again.
It’s an interesting thing to go through your whole life and evaluate it. What gets to move, what has to stay, what finds a new home. It is sobering. You question why you have the things you have. For example I own about a dozen assorted vases. There is no way I am ever going to have a dozen bouquets of fresh flowers at the same time. I often will not have that many in a year! I am saving a couple in various sizes and the rest are going away. That’s an easy one. It is much harder to give away books, yarn, and those things that I ‘just might need again’. I am trying to stay strong.
The other part of this relocation is getting to do all the local things I want to do. Some are things that I have been putting off, but have now run out of time. Some are things I’ve done already but want to do one last time. I can’t leave the area without going to the local burger joint one last time! It would be wrong. The list goes on and unfortunately eats into the time I have for packing. Moving gives you the very real lesson, “You can’t do everything”. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
As stressful and chaotic as all this is, it is also deeply therapeutic. It is freeing to go through things and realize that you no longer need or want them. The notions of simplifying and minimizing are good ones to have. Keep only what is necessary and/or important. Let everything else go. I have no delusions that this impulse will stay throughout the process (especially at the end when it’s just easier to throw everything in a box), but right now I like it. We could all probably due with a little more minimalism in our lives.
I have often asked churches to examine their ministries in this same way. Without fail, no program of the church is ever viewed as unnecessary. From Rummage sales to study groups that exist solely for two people nothing can be ended or done away with. While honoring the outreach that those programs have in their own scope, I often question if they are necessary. Some of these ministries have been around for 40 years and are no longer meeting the needs they once did. When we spend time and effort on these ministries that are no longer effective, we do not have the time or energy to spend on something new and different that might meet a need that has emerged more recently. Periodically we need to purge.
It’s a hard thing to let things go but sometimes it is necessary. In order to move on to what is next, some things must stay behind. That is the reality of moving and it applies to churches as well as people. Sometimes we move the best when we are unencumbered by the past.
“And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.”