I have been doing a lot of reading for my graduate program, and I’m reading with various sets of eyes, as a reader, a writer, and a pastoral leader, thinking about what the words mean not only for me, and my craft, but also for my church community.
In an interview with The Writer’s Chronicle (Sep’t. 2008), author Scott Russell Sanders says, “No community can thrive without a substantial core of citizens who are committed to the long-term wellbeing of that place, nor can any business, church, school, or volunteer organization. Wallace Stegner observed that Americans tend to be divided between ‘boomers’ and ‘stickers’––the first kind ready to move on as soon as things get tough in one place…the second kind committed to making the situation they’re in…as good as it can be, or at least better than it was. Obviously a vibrant society needs both sorts of souls.”
Reading this, I thought about the history of my church, dating back to 1874 and those pioneers of Boulder Creek who were committed to this community, who saw many people come and go, loggers, summerers, clergy, etc. They didn’t just go when things got tough, they went on to the next place God lead them. I thought about the people who have come and gone in the 20 years I’ve been here, and how sometimes, I want everyone I’ve ever loved, known and cared for to remain here with me. After growing up in an ever-changing familial landscape (four divorces and five marriages between my assorted parents by the time I was 16) I have become a “sticker.” You just can’t get rid of me! That’s a good thing for me, and after reading Sanders’ interview, I understand it’s a good thing for my church as well, providing stability and a foundation, a “home” in a constantly changing world. But, as Sanders says, our society and our church need “boomers” too. I’ve always been intimidated by these explorers, people willing to take risks, to not only move to new states and cities, but to venture into new jobs, ministries, life journeys. Sounds too scary to me.
Yet, all of us, in some ways are both—we’re stickaboomers! We commit to what is foundational in our particular lives: God, family, profession, or place, and move in and out of—communities, relationships, jobs, churches, as we attempt to live the fullness of life God promises us.
What a launching pad Boulder Creek United Methodist Church has been in its long life. It’s not about amassing members and keeping them forever. It’s about filling folks with God’s love, wherever they might go. We continue to be a small spiritually vibrant church, and it is a privilege to play a part in providing the stability that encourages people to dream of possibilities, listen to God’s leading, and go forth into their passions. May this always be a place to return, welcomed with open arms, to be refreshed, renewed and recharged to “boom” God’s love into the world.