Often times when we start talking about change in the future we begin to inherently think that there was something wrong with what we did in the past. Our minds begin to wonder… did we fail in the past… did we do the wrong things… did we somehow miss the boat in what we did… or what’s wrong with what we did in the past; why isn’t it still good enough for today? And if we have been around for a while and those traditions and routines were a very real and special part of our own church experience, then talk of change can become very personal and threatening.
Obviously we have been talking a great deal about change this year. We are no longer calling ourselves, Central Baptist, but have adopted a new name, Journey Church on the Common. So it is very natural to have many mixed emotions about what is happening in the church right now. If you didn’t have mixed emotions about everything you wouldn’t be human.
What we have to keep in mind is that the redevelopment process in which we find ourselves now is not a repudiation of the past; in no way does it say that what the church did in the past decades is wrong. Your memories and experiences and the routines and traditions of the past decades all hold a special place in your lives. They brought meaning and comfort to you as you sought to live out your Christian faith here in Chelmsford at “Central Baptist”.
In recognition of that the C-3 committee is putting together a “history wall” that will be displayed in the Ellis Room and will be unveiled on Sunday, October 2nd. That is meant to be a celebration of the church’s ministry over the past 150 plus years. We hope that you will find it meaningful.
Rather, as we move forward we are seeking to build on the past. If you go back to the covenant document we voted for on May 22nd, look at the section near the beginning entitled “Look Back”. “From the beginning in 1847, Central Baptist Church was founded by 35 men and women from First Baptist Church of Lowell and First Baptist Church of South Chelmsford, with the shared vision of creating a house of worship more accessible to people living near the center of town.” The vision from the beginning was to “serve God and community”. And in the C3 process right now we are attempting to build upon that foundation and find new ways to serve God and community in the changing times of the 21st century. We are only building upon the foundation that was laid way back in 1847.
The apostle Paul wrote in the Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul was not rejecting the past and all that God had done; rather he was simply reminding us that we can’t rest on what happened in the past, but have to continue to press on to what God wants us to do now and in the future. That’s the nature of the Christian discipleship.
So let’s celebrate the past and continue to press on to what God would have us do now and in the future.