The best way to begin anything is to build a foundation. Big or small, everything needs a foundation. Two important foundations are being built in my life right now, and I’m learning important lessons from both of them.
Construction crews are building a foundation on our new home. In addition, the people of Ascension Lutheran Church and I are building a foundation for our common ministry together.
Here in Florida the ground is too swampy for basements, so a house begins with a slab. It’s a nice flat, firm, level place on which to build the house. In order to withstand hurricane force winds, cinder block is used for the lower portion of the home, and then steel straps are pulled through the cinder block to the roof to hold everything down. A great deal about home construction was learned after the devastating hurricane Andrew in 1992. I’m glad that we get to reap those benefits. Our construction manager tells us that our roof will be able to withstand winds of 140 mph, or more.
We’re laying a slab at Ascension, too. It has to be done in a way similar to the building of a house:
- Pour the slab.
- Lay the blocks, one by one.
- Secure it so that it weathers the storms.
We are pouring the slab by measuring the perimeter, pouring carefully, and smoothing it all out. The slab is being poured through a series of listening sessions where Ascension members are getting the chance to respond to twenty questions about the history of the church. They get to consider the past, think about the future, and do a little dreaming. We are measuring the perimeter by keeping in place boundaries. We are staying within the boundaries of the way things are currently being done. As a wise pastor once told me, “Don’t make any major changes for a year.” And we are smoothing it all out by sharing a great deal of fellowship time with one another (thanks to the hospitality of these great people).
We are laying the blocks one by one in a very intentional way. This is happening through one-on-one conversations and in small group settings. I’m developing relationships with people so that I get to know them personally, and they get to know me. We cannot truly move forward together until we all know each other well, and understand that each of us are fighting personal battles and glorying in personal triumphs.
Finally, we are securing it all, not with steel straps, but with the most important fastener of all: Love. When we listen to one another, learn from each other, get to know our common joys, sorrows, and triumphs, we cannot help but love one another. We are bound together with the greatest love of all, the Love of God that never falls or fails.
It is that love which will help us together weather any storm. And there will be storms. But we will learn from them, and they will make us stronger.
But it all starts with a solid foundation.
What other ingredients would you add to the construction of a firm foundation?