As part of Day1's Young Leaders of the Church Series, the Rev. Dr. Damon P. Williams offers this commentary on the future of the church:
Personally, I define 'the church' not as a building but rather as a people who share a common faith in Jesus Christ. And so the church matters deeply to me for several reasons. First, the body of believers has a mission from God to help all people identify their purpose and answer that proverbial question of 'What on earth am I here for?' And this is important, because after a life filled with academic pursuits, professional pursuits, and personal pursuits, many of us are left unfulfilled truly seeking purpose. So I think the church has a calling to aid in that pursuit of purpose for all people. And, secondly, the church matters because we have been called by God to replicate God's love to all throughout the world. And in a world with so much darkness, cruelty, and war, a little light from God's love, shown by God's church, is not only much welcomed, but also much needed.
Personally, the church matters to me simply because of the relationship I have with God. I mean, when I look back over my life and I think about all the ways God has blessed me and kept me even when amidst negative circumstances, I can't help but love God and desire to serve God's church in any way that I can. And that is the interesting thing about ministry work; there are so many unique ways in which one can serve and be a blessing to others.
I think it was when I realized that God doesn't exist to meet all of my expectations, but rather I exist to meet all of God's expectations...that is when I knew ministry work was for me. The way I read and understand the Gospel, God's biggest expectation of me, as it relates to others, is to serve other people. And no matter what one's vocation is, they have an opportunity to serve other people. I just felt my specific calling was to serve others through the work of the church.
What interests me most about church work is the ability to help a hurting people. One doesn't have to look too far these days to see that many people are suffering, whether it be financially, physically, or emotionally; and to be able to work daily to lend a helping hand to anyone who may be hurting is work that I not only find interesting, but fulfilling as well.
To do that kind of work in 2011, the church needs leadership that is willing to adapt to the changing climate and changing needs of people today. We all know that any organization runs the risk of becoming stagnant; but if we as church leaders view the church not as an organization, but rather a progressive organism that changes and adapts, I believe we will be able to respond to the needs of people in this century and beyond. To me the key is relationship building. I think Jesus was a relationship builder with all whom he came into contact with. And it was his ability to love and accept in relationship all whom he came into contact with that made his ministry so vibrant, so powerful, and so impactful. It is that model that I'd like to bring to the church so that we can make a difference in people's lives.
I'm Damon Williams.