By Kevin Kindelin
When I learned that the first ever Stronger Together Summit was to be held in the gym on June 25th, I was a little distraught. Having newly installed air conditioning is great, but it wouldn’t do me any good because the gym had always been inaccessible to me and my wheelchair. But before I could even complain, I got an email from Jeff Berger with the solution. Immanuel had bought three portable ramps that did the trick just fine by leapfrogging them up the steps to the entrance. That quickly reminded (and humbled) me that it wasn’t about me; it was about us, Stronger Together. I was greeted by friendly Summit volunteers offering coffee, water, and snacks. The apparent need for energy stimulation wasn’t lost on me.
Nearly 100 Immanuel members gathered together on that gorgeous summer day. After opening comments, prayer, and an agenda that encouraged us to have open minds and to “think outside the box,” church leaders and Summit facilitators discussed the vision of our Stronger Together campaign. One of the highlights of the Summit for me was the video that featured thousands of starlings flying in a divinely choreographed, synchronized ebb and flow of perfect cooperation.
I believe that God has programmed within in us abilities to do certain things, talents, and the need to grow and expand. While the starlings’ flawless murmuration “program” seems to be one completely of His control, which can be referred to as instinct, God gave us free will to choose to cooperate, compromise for the greater good, and ultimately grow. I often think of what God’s great plan is for us as His greatest creation. Although there is a lot of evil in this world, I continue to be reminded that the innate nature of mankind is good, and therefore we’re destined to do good if we choose to follow His will.
We came out of the Summit committed to taking our ministries to the next level by “reaching across the ministry aisle,” so to speak, by collaborating, acting with transparency, sharing, and empowering each other. In order to build a community in Christ, we must first build a cooperative attitude and atmosphere within our ministries and ourselves. Sure, we have different ideas about how things should be run, but what we share is our love of Christ and our commitment to Immanuel and Stronger Together. We were asked to recruit three new members for each ministry (anybody want to join the Board of Elders?) by the next Summit to be held on Saturday, September 24th. We agreed to continue conversations which lead to cooperation and growth.
I must admit, prior to the Summit I had been a bit frustrated by what I perceived as stagnation in achieving our goal of building a community in Christ. We had been talking a lot and new outposts have been created, but I didn’t see any “murmurative” cooperation. The Summit changed that for me. I saw and heard people reaching out to other ministries, figuring out how to really make Stronger Together a reality by communicating ideas, successes, and even failures and challenges. It’s okay to fall on our collective faces as long as we pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes. We’ll never be perfectly synchronized like the starlings and we’re certain to bump into each other now and again, but we can cooperate, expand, and truly build the community in Christ by reaching out to “those who have ears.” See you in the gym on September 24th!