Making Room for the Spirit

A person posing for the camera…and so it begins! As you’ll read in the article by Liz Farquar, the transition team has formed, met, and charted a course for the transition process here at Esperanza. We give thanks to God for those who said yes to serving on the transition team: Liz Farquar, Michelle Tinsley, Paul Beeks, and Paul Wagner. They will be leading us through the process of celebrating our history, clarifying our mission and guiding principles, helping us become more adaptable, and gathering data from all of you about the kinds of gifts we hope the next pastor of Esperanza possesses. Your participation in each step of this process is critical as discernment is a group process, not a solo one.

While we will be using a survey towards the end of our process to gather specific data points, most of the transition process will be a group process. When we talk together in community, the Holy Spirit works among us in a way that is usually more generative than when we fill out surveys by ourselves. While I appreciate the efficiency of surveys, I have learned through experience that to discern well, the people of God need to talk with each other.

Case in point: In the past, in attending council meetings, I always came prepared with a draft solution for every problem as a starting place for discussion. Now, I love solving problems and drafting solutions in my office at my computer with my door closed. I live with the happy delusion that I am right most of the time, so this leadership method worked well for me. (It really did, no fooling.) But instead of everyone agreeing with my brilliant solutions, about half the time, the council members would disagree with me. They would raise good questions and bring up good points and share good information I didn’t know. Council meetings would end with about half the agenda items solved my way and about half the agenda items solved a different way—and here’s the kicker: we nearly always had consensus on each item. By the end of our discussions, we had all seen the wisdom of each other’s perspectives raised up in community, in the back-and-forth, in trusting each other enough to honestly and respectfully disagree. To which I say: Thanks be to God! That’s the Holy Spirit coming in between us, opening our ears and eyes and hearts, freeing us from the rigidity of our strongly-held personal opinions.

As you probably know, I am excited to enter this transition process. I suspect God is up to something new and life-giving at Esperanza, and I can’t wait to find out what it is!

With expectation,

Pastor Sarah