I have a tree in my little front yard. I am not sure what it is. I thought it was a dogwood when it first started blooming in late April, even though it seemed late blooming for a dogwood. As the blossoms developed completely, it was clear the flowers were not dogwood flowers even though it seemed to be cousins with the dogwood at least. It was very pretty as it began to bloom and because it is right outside my front door, I get to walk under the blossoms every time I come in and out my front door.
The problem is that the tree still has the flowers. There are two other trees in the neighborhood just like it, and examining them, I see that the petals should have fallen off by now. Instead they are just turning a little brown and the leaves that are competing for the nutrients and water seem to be more shriveled. I don’t know what to do about it, but it is clear that the turning flowers are no longer a sign of health and possibility but a sign that something is very wrong.
Our ministries have a lot of flowers that are still hanging around. We see them on the tree and it reminds of us the good days when the blooms first started to come. We remember the first kids in Sunday School, the GAs earning their badges, the large youth group that volunteered around the building, and the list goes on. The problem is that some of these flowers are no longer blooming. They are hanging onto the tree because we just cannot let them go.
The problem arises when those flowers keep other new life from growing. We cannot develop small group ministries in homes because Sunday School is a priority. We cannot add new music or experiential aspects into worship because we have to sing the songs we sang as children. We cannot go out into the community and volunteer because we have so many leadership roles within the walls of the church. Our pastors cannot reach out to the community because they are spending so much time with those that have already been a part of the church. All the while, the flowers are still there, still hanging on and if you squint just right and look from the right angle you can see the beauty they once had, but no new growth can happen.
Just as the flowers appear for a season and a purpose, so do the ministries within our churches. We can easily see the need for the changes of season but somehow we want the same blossoms in our church all the time. There is a time for the blossoms but there is a time for green growth, there is a time for fall and the leaves to fade away, there is a time for winter and a time for rest so there can be renewal and rebirth. We cannot hang on so tightly to the flowers that we harm the tree. We cannot mistake one type of growth to be the only kind of growth.
Now…can anyone tell me what to do about my tree?