After writing last week about the Ford F-150 plant and the innovative spirit of Henry Ford, I was surprised to learn that the entire operation has been forced to stop temporarily. When my sister Jan and her husband, Glenn came to visit us in April, we took a tour of the plant as well as the nearby Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

At that time the factory was running smoothly, humming with activity. It was amazing to see the trucks moving along assembly lines, one Ford F-150 produced per minute around the clock. Then the unexpected happened — a fire broke out in a factory that produced a specific part needed for the trucks. Damage from the fire resulted in the closure of that factory, which in turn impacted the Rouge Ford plant. The absence of one part caused the whole operation to shut down, affecting over 3,000 employees. 

Representatives from the company assured news reporters that they were working hard to get things going again, hopefully within a week or two. Had Jan and Glenn come two weeks later, it wouldn’t have been possible to take the tour of the F-150 plant. The tour was a highlight of the trip for Glenn. It also reinforced an idea that had already been planted in my mind after hearing several sermons at church relating to the theme of “moving forward.”

Henry Ford wondered how an affordable car could be constructed in the most efficient, least expensive and fastest manner. That question led him to identify 84 specific skills and jobs that were required for the production of the Model T before constructing an assembly line to produce it. Over time and with “unrelenting innovation” those specific jobs were streamlined, until Ford’s vision became a reality. 

In much the same way, a leadership team from our church spent many months seeking to get a clear picture of specific areas of growth and improvement. They wanted to know God’s vision, His plan, at least for the near future. The FORWARD team, as it was called, conducted meetings, surveys and workshops to determine what things individuals in the large congregation thought were important. 

After much prayer and deliberation, three issues emerged, perhaps best summed up by the following questions. First, how can we, the church family and staff, help people grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ? Second, how can we build stronger relationships with young people, those in generations different than ours? Finally, how can we create places of worship outside conventional church buildings, places where people will feel safe to meet, worship, share their stories and encourage each other on their spiritual journeys? 

The answers to these questions could be somewhat threatening insofar as they might bring about change in the way things are normally done “in church.”  However, God often moves in very unpredictable, innovative ways. Remember what happened to the small group of disciples who were gathered together after Jesus’ resurrection?  God sent the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had promised them — with the sound of “a violent wind” from heaven and what appeared to be tongues of fire on each person present! (Acts 1: 5, 8) When this happened, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages. 

There was quite a commotion among the people who were nearby, after hearing the noise of the great wind, seeing the flames and observing the group speaking in many foreign tongues.  Doubtless not one of those disciples ever thought the Holy Spirit would come upon them in that way! What a surprise! And yet from then on their lives were forever changed, as was the world around them.

May we be open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, in our churches and in our world. Bring on the needed changes, dear Lord, so that Your kingdom may come here on earth. Help us to move forward hand in hand with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being, I announce them to you.” — Isaiah 42:9 NIV

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” — Matthew 9:16-17 NIV

 

Judy Lowery lives in Michigan. The Good News column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, goodnewswithjudy.blogspot.com.

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