Few succeed when traveling alone on a journey.
Meriwether Lewis needs William Clark to help settle the American West. Edmund Hillary relies on Tenzing Norgay in conquering Mount Everest. And Barnabas accompanies Paul to help bring the Gospel to far-off places.
It’s that way in our faith journeys, as well. We need each other to navigate the steep peaks and plunging slopes that inevitably confront us as we translate our faith from mere words to powerful action.
And a church provides the perfect platform to equip us with those who will journey alongside of us.
I am Exhibit A.
When my family and I joined Ascension more than 30 years ago, my intent was to be a casual participant in the life of the church while our children went to Sunday school. Maybe a couple of Sundays a month and whatever pocket change might find its way into the collection plate. I was clueless to the idea that one could live out a Christian faith in ways that could be life changing and world changing.
But I couldn’t embrace this new Christian life on my own, not even with family and friends alongside. I needed others to teach and encourage me. A multitude of other Ascension members have come alongside of me over the past three decades to help shape and challenge me. Turns out Proverbs was right – “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another” (Prov. 27:17).
I have been burnished by countless pastors, lay people and others at Ascension who saw my faith journey as an important part of theirs.
That notion became an important part of my first book, The Jonah Factor®: 13 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Job of a Lifetime (Augsburg Fortress, 2006). In it I explored the notion of how church can play a vital role in helping us discern our vocation, regardless of what season of life we are in.
I continue to leverage my engagement with Ascension and its pastors, staff and members, especially now that I enter the season of retirement from fulltime employment. They continue to show me things I didn’t realize about myself and provide me with countless opportunities to grow. Maybe that’s why we call ourselves a congregation, which is defined as “a body of assembled people.” Did you catch that? A body. Assembled. United. Each part looking out for the other parts. All interested in the health and success of each of those other parts of the body
Like you, the success of my faith journey requires others to come alongside of me. And Ascension provides me a steady stream of people who love me and want me to keep growing and succeed. This church can do the same for and with you. I promise.
Some say the church is dying. But some things are worth saving.
© Ed Klodt, 2019
(Views from the Pews is written by Ed Klodt. He and his family are longtime members of Ascension. Ed earned his Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, has served as an interim pastor and has been a longtime lay minister at Ascension.