Have you ever ridden in a car where the wheels were not aligned properly? The car shakes and vibrates and gets harder and harder to control. When the alignment is off you always feel like you’re fighting the steering wheel trying to make your way down the road. When the wheels of a car are not aligned you have the problem of one front wheel trying to go in a different direction from the rest of the car. To fix the problem you need a front-end alignment.
I have come to realize that one of the main struggles a church can have is their alignment is off. Not a front-end alignment like you have in a car, but a spiritual alignment. The spiritual alignment of a church is all about being engaged with God and serving God’s purpose. We may be a good church (like the front tire is a good tire) and we may do things that are supposed to be done by a church (like the front tire going around and around on the ground), but we may be trying to go in a different direction than God is trying to take us. Is the spirit of our church aligned with the Spirit of God? Is our ultimate purpose in line with what God is calling us to do, and, are we being who God is calling us to be?
One reason I have come to believe in this idea is that I have seen what happens when a person and a church align their lives with God’s purpose for them. I can tell the story of my friend Pam who called me about a year ago to talk about a new ministry our church might take on. She wanted to make blankets for people in the hospital or in nursing homes. I told her I thought it was a great idea, and if she was willing to take on the role of leading that group the church would support her. On this past Sunday evening a group of about 20 people came together to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Blankets & Blessings ministry team. They now crochet blankets to give to terminally ill and hospice patients. To date they have made 132 blankets and touched as may families with a blessing. Pam stood before her team and gave a testimony to how God has pushed her along the way in this ministry, but she has no doubt this was her purpose in God’s work – to engage in this ministry. Pam felt her journey get stronger and more stable when she aligned herself with God.
I can also tell you the story of our church – Asbury United Methodist Church in Pasadena, Texas. Asbury has long been a good church worshiping God and seeking to love well. The church has been traveling in the right direction, but maybe not as fully or intentionally aligned with God’s purpose as we could have been. In the past few years the people of Asbury have become more intentional in seeking God’s purpose for the church – seeking to discern and know God’s vision and mission. And now we seem to be moving faster and more effectively. We have seen more people coming to visit. More families getting connected. More ministry growing up out of the heart and passions of the people – like Pam.
The reality is, this is not something we have made happen. We can’t point to a program or some great effort on our part that has made this growth and spiritual blossoming happen. We simply have been more intentional about aligning ourselves with God – we have engaged in a more purposeful “spiritual alignment” with God and the journey has become more than we could have ever imagined.
I pray that others will know such joy.
Holy high five to you, Mike