A neighboring congregation has rolled out the welcome mat for ours. Our session (and I) visited theirs (and their pastor) a few weeks ago for an introductory meeting and tour. They are taking our columbarium, shelves and stained glass window and all, and installing it in their building. And yesterday, eighteen of our members worshipped with them.
And liked it.
LIKED it? I wasn't at all prepared for them to LIKE it.
Five folks stayed at "home" and so I led an informal service in our parlor, but I made it to the other church in the middle of the sermon, with about 20 minutes to go in the service. Afterward, a large group of us went out to lunch, where I got to hear all the things they liked.
The numbers of church. The youth liturgist. The bell choir. The final song. The pastor's animated preaching. The light in the sanctuary. The large, multi-generational congregation. The graciousness of the regulars.
What's not to like?
Several of my colleagues have pointed out that my congregation has been well-prepared for change, prepared to be open and curious and to move on. It's true; I have preached and taught and tried to model those things, and our session leadership has supported the rest of the congregation in exploring new possibilities.
But I'm not all that sure that I intended for them to LIKE it.