Cycling and Servant Ministry
Cycling is a team sport. When I watched the Tour de France this year, I learned how cycling teams work together to win races: one or two riders are expected to sprint and win stages, but the other six or seven protect and support them. They block the wind and other riders, they allow the leaders to draft behind them, they even carry food and water to the sprinters to keep them nourished. They are called domestiques (servants) and their job is not to win glory, but to help the team to victory.
I met someone this week who made a point to thank me and to thank Trinity Cathedral for being a place, in recent years, that could cast a vision of faith that helped them to find a new church home. They came from another denomination but found through our ministry something that resonated with them. Yet they did not stay at Trinity; they now worship at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood and seem to be quite happy there.
I’ve had a number of similar conversations over the years and have come to realize that one of the charisms (gifts) of cathedral ministry is that though many newcomers remain worshippers and even become members of Trinity, when our ministry serves as a gateway it will often mean a journey that continues to other places. I’ll go a little farther: when our particular ministry of welcome and evangelism leads other churches to grow, it’s a sign that we are indeed doing something right.
A cycling domestique may not win every stage (they do win sometimes), but rather they celebrate the success of the whole team. As a cathedral, we are blessed with a faithful congregation, yet we also get to look beyond a parochial model, and to see that our ministry is affirmed when other churches around us grow. That can turn ours sense of “church growth” upside-down, yet Jesus constantly reminds us that when we live to give things away, we grow exponentially.