Hard questions sometimes get hard answers. It was true for Nicodemus, the Rich Young Ruler, and many who are part of the Twin Lakes Reformed Church (TLC) family. Although the installed leadership agreed already last year that the answer regarding the future of TLC is that its season of ministry should come to an end and the facility and property be turned over to The Bridge Church for the purpose of a new church start, the hearts and minds of the church family regarding the matter were determined before making a final decision. Since so many of them have so much invested into TLC in so many ways, leadership felt they deserved being heard and assured that their opinion matters.
A special meeting was held and through a time of discussion, addressing several questions, and asking for unofficial affirmation, it was clear: the vast majority of those present at the well attended meeting agreed with leadership. Some present were shocked. Oddly, I think some were relieved. The time of their own wondering about TLC’s future was over and the future more defined. Knowing that another ministry is to begin and TLC’s legacy carried on brings comfort and hope. Yet, there is an overall sense of sadness within the church family. Some of TLC’s oldest members, some of whom are 90+ years old, have considered TLC their church home for a very long time. For so many, the place holds dear and fond memories of weddings, funerals, baptisms, and other significant times and events. Given the circumstances, sadness and grief are understandable. In some ways, their absence would be of greater concern than their presence. Overall, my sense is that the general consensus throughout the church family is: “It’s sad and I wish it wasn’t happening, but I understand.” Their sadness is understandable; their patience, understanding, and ongoing support of leadership and the ministry are admirable. Their spiritual maturity is contributing to this process flowing as smoothly as it has thus far.
Getting hard answers can be difficult and painful. Contemplating their ramifications and realizing more and more the reality of them can bring anxiety and fear. Helping the church family accept and grieve the reality of the future of TLC’s ministry in healthy ways is now among leadership’s paramount responsibilities. Great attention is being given to helping the church family grieve what will be a significant loss, but to do so with hope and with a sense of excitement about the new beginning we believe will come, even as we celebrate what God has done and is yet doing in and through TLC.
Among my pastoral responsibilities during this season is to also help leadership move through it in healthy ways. They, too, have a lot invested into TLC. They are the ones who have to live with having made the hard decision. It’s no small thing, however, that they feel strongly that their unanimous decision is one to which God led them. Their decision reflects a willingness to put what they believe is better for the Kingdom and what God desires before their own personal comfort. I am humbled by how I believe their decision reflects the depth of their personal spirituality, their Kingdom perspectives, and their willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom and their obedience to God, and to do so even what it’s difficult, uncomfortable, and risky.
The last worship service at TLC is scheduled to be held on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. Pastor Philip Rose, Church Planter of the new church that is to begin at the current site of TLC, and I plan to share in administering the Lord’s Supper. We who gather will be reminded of the sacrificial death of Christ and of the hope and new life He offers and that belong to those who belong to Him. Many that day will probably walk away feeling sad and like mourners leaving the gravesite of a loved one. But, we will also be able to walk away anticipating the new beginning and the new life that is to come. What a fitting way to walk on Easter Sunday.
To God be the glory!
Ron Lugten, Pastor
Twin Lakes Reformed Church