where love is alive 

Casey Kasem was host of the nationally syndicated radio show American Top 40 between 1970 and 2004. Each week millions of listeners would follow the “count down” until the number one song of the week was revealed.  Afterwards, Casey would sign off his show with his signature line:  Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

That adage is more than a simple cliché.  It expresses two great needs in our lives: stability and adventure. For example, social scientists studying the welfare of children note the high value of a stable environment on young lives. Yet, in our formative years, healthy new experiences and challenges are always before us.  The key is balance. And we need this balance no matter our age. To adapt Mr. Kasem’s saying: people need strong foundations as we search for the joy found in new encounters.

In many ways, congregational ministry is the pursuit of this balance. Recently I came across a new word, neophilia Literally, it means “the love of the new.” For many years, church ministry has trended toward new and innovative ways for congregations to function. Some churches even market themselves as a form of “unChurch,” embracing the contemporary and intentionally excluding historic expressions of doing ministry.

But of late, the pendulum of church culture appears to be swinging back toward an appreciation for tradition and structure. Of course, the wise route celebrates the value of both the familiar and the new. I think Eugene Peterson said it well when he wrote: The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction. Indeed, going in the same direction means thanksgiving and appreciation for the heritage that brought you to where you are. A long obedience incorporates the faith to journey into new territory.

I am grateful that the grace of our church family gives worth to both the rich heritage and the fresh methods of worship and ministry.  Pray for your church leaders as we strive to maintain the best balance for God to minister effectively through us. Jay


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