Open Up

TMC Digging A Deeper Well

It is easy.  And understandable.  And dangerous.

It is easy, understandable, and dangerous for you as a church board to narrow the aperture of your vision, so that you only see:

      1. Budgets
      2. Buildings
      3. Complaints
      4. Staff problems
      5. Staff vacancies

Of course, congregations consist of so much more than budgets, buildings, complaints, staff problems, staff vacancies. But it takes disciplined, motivated work to open up and see beyond those issues—to see a faith community in all its need, challenge, joy, wonder, and value.

For instance, beyond our plans and intentions, more people than we know might experience the church as a place of respite.  Hopefully, a place of safety.  Often, a place of rest and restoration.  But how do we notice that?  How do we find a place for it on our board meeting agenda?

Bible verses have a way of sounding innocuous, when really, they carry deep knowledge of human life and expansive hope and trust in the power of God.  Notice the words “anything” and “everything” in Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Do not worry about anything.”  There is a lot of peril in that anything, for life is hard and fragile and there is plenty that provokes anxiety in our souls.

“But in everything.”  We are told to give everything to God.  But to give everything to God, we have to see as much of the everything as we can.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the threatening, the places of peace, and so much more.  We need – and your church board needs – a wide and focused aperture to see it all, to pray for it all, to respond to it all, and to trust God with… everything.

In the following poem, New York-based writer Asiya Wadud opens up all her senses on a tour of the local library.  Notice how she sees so much more than just books on shelves – and how that connects her to the drama of human life and need.


this is a library

 by Asiya Wadud


this is a library

these are books

this is men with nowhere to go

this is the Chelsea Hotel

these are pee boots

this is a keen stench

these are letters

this is the mystery collection


and this is a library

this is a respite

this is a heads down hotel

this is a man doing his job

tap tap on the shoulder

this is no motel


this is a toilet flushing loudly

this is a potent stench

this is the greasiest hair

these are bent backs

this is everyone there everyone

alone this is old men no sons


this is some love then none

this is hot hope done gone

this is a hot weather respite

this is a winter shelter

these are books


this is Gwendolyn Brooks

these are the weathered books

these are the weathered men

this is a lit lantern an ancient

hope a queuing disaster

this is a library


rainy day and wet dog men

5 PM lights out

the men return tomorrow

no doubt

no doubt


What details stand out to you in Waddud’s tour of the library?


Where does she take us in the end? How does she get there?


If you were to open all your senses on a tour of your church, what would you notice?  What are the expected and unexpected features?  What are the smells? What story of human life and need would you tell?  What is not in doubt?


Thinking of the Philippians passage, what are the hardest parts of life not to worry about – as individuals, and as a church board?


How does your church board agenda reflect the everything we are to give to God?

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