“Have You Ever Ridden a Bike?”

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

About a month ago, when I stopped by a moving sale, I saw a bicycle for sale. As soon as I saw the bike, I wanted to ride it. I tried to ride the bike around the yard, and that brought me back to my childhood. When I was about ten years old, my mother taught me to ride a bike. Even though my mother held the bike behind me, I fell off the bike several times. It took me a long time to ride a bike by myself. I hurt my knees several times. I cried to my mother to help me out, even though she was busy with work. Finally, when I was able to ride a bike by myself, I felt great, as if I could fly in the sky. I enjoyed riding my bike as a teenager. After my teens, I never had the chance to ride a bike. However, my body remembered how when I tried again. It’s such a mystery to me that my body still remembered how to balance the bike even though I haven’t ridden a bike for more than thirty years. How amazing!

Recently, I was enjoying riding my bike around my neighborhood. I rode far from my home, and I was about to turn around and head back toward my place. I was riding down a slight hill excitedly, with a wind in my hair feeling like I was flying in the sky. Suddenly, however, I felt something was wrong with my bike and I should stop. I looked at my bike to see what was wrong. I found that one of the pedals was out. I stood my bike up and tried to fix it. But I couldn’t make it work. Therefore, I had to walk back to my place with the bike. It must have looked funny to the people who saw me walking with a bike wearing a hamlet. Sure enough, just as expected, from her house, a woman looked at me and asked, “Are you alright?” I laughed and said, “Did you feel that something was wrong with me?” She said, “I’m just wondering why you are walking with a bike and not riding it.” I stopped and showed her the condition of my bike. She said, “I think my husband can help you.” She called her husband, and he fixed my bike. Thankfully, I got help from them and could go back home riding the bike. If you know how to ride a bike, you might say, “It is easy, like riding a bike.” But, riding a bike is sometimes a challenge for people who can’t ride it or don’t know how.

Two weeks ago, I went to Verona to attend the Institution of Congregational Development (ICD). I learned a strategy to revitalize the church from a speaker (Jim Ozier) at the ICD. He compared revitalizing a church to riding a bike. He asked us, “Have you ever been riding a bike?” It was interesting to me because I have recently had that experience. He said, “If you know how to ride a bike, at some point in your life, you learned a skill and overcame a fear at the same time. That’s what it takes to master the art of hospitality!” According to him, creating a “culture of hospitality” in a church might be a challenge and a risk, but we should overcome the risk to vitalize the church. He said, “For many mainline churches, there is an uneasy sense that we are pedaling as fast as we can but are still riding uphill, against the wind all the time. It doesn’t have to be this way. What makes a bicycle go is the combination of balance and momentum. You can apply this metaphor to the life of your local church to go farther and faster than you ever imagined.”

According to him, riding a bike is easy, but scientists tell us that it is much more complex than we realize. He said, “according to scientific study’, riding a bike is incredibly hard.” He recalled how we learned to ride a bike back in our childhood: ‘When we learned it at first, how bad we would be hurt, or how embarrassed we would be if we messed up. But we got through it. We overcame all fear, challenges, embarrassment, and risk without realizing how complicated riding a bike is scientifically, and we can enjoy it now. As such, we can consider hospitality in our churches. Changing or creating a new culture in the church might be a risk or challenge to long-term members. However, we must be willing to take the risk and fully commit to reap the reward. Once a church gets the knack of hospitality, it becomes hardwired into its life, and amazing things happen.

Creating “a culture of hospitality” is the first step to vitalizing our church. The speaker suggested five keys to create “a culture of hospitality” comparing it to riding a bike: intentionality (bike’s frame), relationship (wheels), interaction (handlebars), engagement (seat), and connection (pedals). As riding a bike is a matter of gaining balance and momentum, creating a culture of hospitality is so as well. Suppose we want to be vitalized in our church. In that case, we should work together with commitment to our church community intentionally, building good relationships with one another, engaging each other, and connecting to God and the church community. When you open your mind (engagement) and commit to the church community (connection), God will make things happen. As Ephesians says, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  (Ephesians 3:20)

I hope you should know you are not a customer who is buying something from the church, but a producer who makes good things to sell [in Jesus Christ]. Please commit to the church to produce good things in Jesus Christ. There are several ways to vitalize our church as you get involved in the church intentionally: such as being a part of worship service by volunteering as a liturgist, reader, lighting candles, usher, song leader, a choir member, or being a part of the volunteer worker who cleaning the church, prepare for coffee fellowship, lock/unlock the church doors, or being a part of one of the church programs like the UMW, UMM, small group gatherings, being a committee member, or joining in a prayer group. Whatever you can do, please do so as a part of the producers of our church with a missionary mind, as God sent you to our church. Let us work together with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our souls. Jesus says, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23), and the Apostle Paul says, “I can do everything through him [Jesus Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Yes, we can do it together. Amen!


Pastor Jenny