“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
I have sat down among many BCBP friends on an occasion or two discussing among other things BCBP formation and our Way Of Life. Among old-timers or “elders” it is so easy to sing the song” The Way We Were” and have all those fuzzy, warm feelings of about how exciting and interesting it was to attend formation talks, 1st Friday general assemblies/ teaching nights and chapter retreats. In the 80’s every occasion seemed well attended and every talk full of the Spirit’s life and leading. Almost all conversations after each occasion would be filled with sharing about each and everyone’s experience and spiritual revelations. From there we would easily build upon one experience after another our eager anticipation of what the next gathering would bring to our newfound spiritual renewal.
The sacrifice of setting aside time and resources to fulfill this search was paying off big dividends for growth and Christian maturity. Serving the community in some capacity seemed a natural response in order to keep one’s place in the scheme of things and in order to keep receiving God’s grace as it flowed towards oneself. The by-words of ‘servant leadership’ were an attractive beacon calling out to many for deeper commitment and discipleship. A yearning for more formation in order to meet higher challenges seemed to be properly met and addressed. Constant reminders that “you cannot give what you do not have “ seemed to ring in many aspiring leaders’ ears urging many to equip themselves for the call of mission and building community.
The crafting of BCBP’s 1st Mission and Vision statements was a watershed that brought on a deeper desire for personal order in one’s life, integrity and stewardship. What was in place then that seems to have brought on tremendous changes in many of the members at that time? Is that passion and evident transformation still evident at this time?
Now the question seems to arise, is there something missing in the way formation is conducted nowadays that enthusiasm for it seems to have waned? Is there some “X factor” that has been taken out of the equation that teaching and assemblies are not what they ‘used’ to be? Or are things the same as they used to be and there really is no cause for concern?
For some of us who have gone full circle from leadership and back to membership, formation has likewise gone full circle, from receiving it to giving it and now to receiving it again. It is no surprise that many of us in this state have learned to be proactive and have acquired a stable of books, magazines, websites, on line teaching, attended adult catechism courses etc. , sources outside of the BCBP mainstream to further our knowledge and gain more maturity in our walk with the Lord.
And yet there is something, which we still yearn and hope for in our BCBP community. Personally, I still look forward for the BCBP to keep its spiritual environment, that of keeping itself in the forefront as a learning, nurturing and caring community. I believe that this is the ‘rich soil’ that the Lord in Matthew 13 means for the men and women in BCBP to thrive in. And this is the same set of instructions that the Lord lays upon Peter’s shoulders when he says, ”Feed my lambs.”
The rich soil is represented by the disciples whose hearts were on fire as the Lord spoke to them on the road to Emmaus. The Living Word should continuously be served as exciting, vibrant and life giving. It should call our attention, our discussions, and our reflection and fill our beings. It should challenge us, convict us and make us realize our weaknesses and inadequacies. I believe that the Word of the Lord continues to inspire many to commitment, servanthood and dedication.
It is easy to turn away in apathy and say that leaders or members are no longer what they used to be. I believe this is all in the environment we choose for our community. If we care less, this very attitude will tear into the fiber of our community as new members will sense that in us. If we care to have this rich soil in which we are implanted continue to be a channel of God’s grace for all of us in the BCBP community, then we should do everything possible to be sure that the right resources come our way.
We should accept that for the many years we were privileged to have received basic formation from our gifted leaders, that there has been transformation, and now we are ready for the next level that the Lord leads us to so that we can continue to bear fruit for his glory.