The late former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, was known for a number of things. One of those things was his well-known question, “How am I doin’?” that he would ask people wherever he went. Koch was a polarizing figure — people seem to have loved him or hated him with little gray area between, but at the very least, the motivation behind this particular question seems to have been a good one. He was trying to get some feedback regarding his performance from outside the echo chamber of his own head and those of his inner circle.
We all need to have some way of knowing if what we’re doing is headed in the right direction, and if our efforts are successful, or if we need to revise our plans and do things differently. In the Christian faith, we’re currently in the season of Lent, which is characterized by personal introspection about our own spiritual lives and our relationship with God. Self-examination is a critical part of understanding reality. But it isn’t the only thing. Like Mayor Koch, we also need to ask others around us, “How are we doin’?”
Right now, Westminster Presbyterian Church is in the middle of just that kind of exercise. Our congregation is in the midst of a transitional time where we’re trying to gauge whether we’re headed in the right direction — not a direction of our own choosing, but the direction that God wants for us — and if we are, how well or how poorly we’re doing as we follow that path. Westminster, and frankly, the Presbyterian Church in general, finds itself in an important and exciting time of change right now. And all of you reading this can be a part of that.
Westminster is engaged in a lot of introspective study as we try to make sure we’re doing what God would have us do, and be, in our attempts to show and extend God’s love in Auburn and its surroundings. We’re engaged in many conversations, meetings and surveys, and we’re offering many prayers as we do this. But the effort will be a dismal failure if we’re only talking to, and among, ourselves.
A professional associate from my days as an architect used to say, “You aren’t an author until somebody else calls you an author. Until then, you’re just a waiter who likes to write.” His point, transferred into the world of the church, is that just calling ourselves “a warm, friendly and caring congregation which welcomes and shows God’s love to all who enter our doors” — as almost every church claims — doesn’t necessarily make it so. You aren’t really friendly, welcoming and effective unless other people say you are.
So I’m asking for your help. Yes, you: every single one of you reading this. I don’t care if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan or Atheist. I don’t care if you’re very familiar with Westminster or if you’ve never even heard of us. We want to hear from every race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, education level, shoe size and socioeconomic status. Everyone in this community can help us, and we’re genuinely asking for your input.
We’ve put together a very short online survey that I hope you’ll all take a few moments to respond to. There are questions about your own religious thoughts and background, so we have a better picture of our community, as well as questions about our congregation, if you’re familiar with us, and some questions about your thoughts about churches in general and what role, if any, churches should have in the community. I promise you it won’t take long — there are only 15 questions in all — and most of it is multiple choice. Who knows, it may actually be fun. It’s completely anonymous. You don’t give us your contact information. No salesmen, or pastors, will call — I promise. But I really do hope that you’ll help us as we continue this time of spiritual and strategic discernment for Westminster Presbyterian Church.
The link to our easy, short survey is at https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/8ZiMSg.
So tell us: How are we doin’?