American abolitionist Frederick Douglas said,
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. (Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals, 479)
As I think back to all of the good work that has been done by this congregation in the last month and year; all of the ministries and the faithful dedication of so many people of God, I remember this quote. As a congregation that is trying to grow—both in numbers and in our own spiritual lives; “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Every ministry, every church, every activity that is trying to grow will experience growing pains. It is part of life. If we are not having pain, we are not growing. If we are not growing, we are shrinking. So I welcome the growing pains because it means we are on the right track!
So as we continue to try to live life together, I encourage you to think about this whenever something changes, or is new, or doesn’t quite line up with your thoughts and ideas. Ask yourself, “are we experiencing growing pains right now or is this something more serious that needs to be brought to the attention of the pastor and staff?” If we are experiencing growing pains, I encourage you to wait a few days, weeks, or months, and see if the pains subside. If they do, hallelujah! If not, we might need to take a closer look and see what is going on.
Brothers and sisters, as we approach Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be the pastor of this congregation—a congregation that is wrestling with “growing pains.” Thank you for this privilege and honor.