Baking Bread and the Life of the Church

“A little yeast works through the whole lump of dough.” – Galatians 5:9

I love baking bread.

There is something incredible about the power of yeast. As the author of Galatians notes, just a bit of yeast is able to be effective when mixed in with the right ingredients. Just a few tablespoons of yeast can be effective for many cups of flour.

When I am kneading the dough, I feel connected with many who have come before me. All those in my family who have used their hands to make bread – both those in the kitchen using the flour and those who have planted and harvested the wheat in the field. It is a practice that is deeply connected with my family. Far beyond my family the practice of baking bread extends across the world and for many generations.

Of course, the practice of baking bread is one that has fallen out of common practice for most families. Homemade bread is a bit of a rarity instead of the norm. Sometimes I think about the life of the church in similar ways. Some generations ago being connected with a local congregation was very common for families across the communities of the United States. However, there are far fewer families connected with a local church today than there were generations ago.

There are any number of resources for families to craft their spiritual life to whatever extent they may choose. Yet, just as store bought bread is no comparison to homemade bread fresh from the oven, so I believe that local communities of faith with people who you know from your neighborhood, workplace or local school create the best environment for children and adults to grow in their faith.

This does not mean that church and congregations are going to look the same as they have in the past, however it does mean church leaders are called to a continued commitment to the communities where they serve and must be willing to innovate and iterate so that God’s love might work through the entire community.

How do you innovate?

I had a conversation recently that started me thinking about innovation and how it happens at Resurrection. My tendency is to look at other congregations and say that they are far more innovative than we are. However, that is often in terms of use of technology and physical facilities.

My conversation partner suggested that Resurrection is not innovative in some areas and actually bleeding edge innovative in others. This helped me shift the question from:

  • How do you innovate?

to

  • How do you innovate?

The first question is one that focuses more on tactics and implementation of new and different things. It also seems to imply a change from the way that things are currently happening.

The second question is one that focuses on a self-examination of current systems and processes. It also helps with the recognition that it is unlikely that any given congregation will be able and willing to be innovative in every possible area.

I feel that both questions are important.

What do you think? Do you find yourself asking either of these questions? What is your response?