I am traveling to St. Louis today to do a “health checkup” with a congregation. It is a good church, and some might wonder why they are having a consultant come in to work with them. The fact that they are a healthy church is precisely why I am going.
Smart, healthy people have regular physicals to ensure that they stay strong and vital (at least those who can afford to). It is all too easy for hidden factors to slip up on us. Two of my closest friends have had unexpected cancer this year, though they were “perfectly healthy.” Another of my “healthiest” friends suffered a serious heart attack, and still another died in his sleep on Sunday night without warning.
Because the world is changing so rapidly, and because technology has thrust us into an entirely new reality, we have begun offering health checkups for churches so they can examine their systems and structures before there is a problem or a crisis. The trouble is few will take advantage of this preventative consultation because to do so would mean risking change.
This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. I am convinced that it has never taken off because to be transfigured/transformed means we must change, and, although we all want to be healthier, stronger, and happier, none of us wants to have to change. We tease churches about that, but they are that way because WE are the church.
Lent begins next Wednesday, of course, and it is the church’s invitation to a 40-day experiment with change or, at the very least, to a season of spiritual self-examination. It might not be as good as bringing in an objective professional, but it is a start.
Rev. Michael Piazza