Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul did not want to take someone who had deserted them. The disagreement became so sharp that Paul and Barnabas parted company. Acts 15:37-39 (adapted)
I served a wonderful church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. One of the elder saints there was fond of saying, “There’s always trouble in the church,” even when there wasn’t any trouble to speak of.
As a newly minted minister full of brilliant ideas, I found her refrain too pessimistic, too Debbie Downer. She was obviously one of those “glass half empty” people who took pride in finding something to complain about on even the sunniest of days.
Then the usual church troubles rolled in: budget worries, building issues, staff changes, cranky people, mission disputes.
After a couple years, I found her catchphrase oddly comforting. “There’s always trouble in the church” normalized church crap and kept me from circling the drain and concluding I was not cut out for ministry after all. In time, I learned to step back and watch expectantly for God to birth something new from our troubles.
There always has been trouble in the church. St. Paul saw enough (and caused enough) trouble to make my church troubles look really boring. Troubles didn’t bog him down. He knew the Spirit was moving and that he couldn’t stop it even if he tried.
What might God be doing in, through, around, or in spite of the troubles and challenges your congregation is facing right now?
Gardening God, may the church crap of today fertilize something new and beautiful tomorrow.