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A Matter of Moments by Greg Duncan

"I remember 5-year-old Emily in her polka-dot dress standing on a block behind the pulpit to read Stewart’s testimony as he watched intently from the baptistry. It was a moment of personal faith renewal for me.”

One of the best books I read in 2018 was “The Power of Moments” by Chip & Dan Heath, recommended to me by David Sallee. The gist is that we all have “defining moments” in our lives. Not just the biggies that come instantly to mind, but the short experiences that for some reason are both memorable and meaningful. 

Something a teacher said to you, an unexpected insight sitting in traffic, a moment of support from a challenging supervisor, etc. Such moments often just seem to happen to us. The Heath brothers undertook an empirical study of the subject and concluded, “Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality.” 

They posit that if such moments are so significant and powerful, why would we leave them to chance? Why would we not choose to create them? Was the teacher’s comment off-the-cuff or carefully crafted? Was the traffic insight random or the culmination of specific experiences? Was your supervisor’s support incidental or strategic?

My intended application of the book was my business: harnessing the power of moments for my clients and for my staff. Good stuff, for sure. But are there any weightier, life-altering moments than those related to our faith, our church, and (going big here…) our eternal life? 

Perhaps not surprisingly, I find that many of my personal moments, both big and small, are somehow connected to Second Baptist Church. 

There are the big things… I remember 5-year-old Emily in her polka-dot dress standing on a block behind the pulpit to read Stewart’s testimony as he watched intently from the baptistry. It was a moment of personal faith renewal for me. I remember completely losing it during my own “prayers of the people” on graduation Sunday as the spiritual significance of the transition flooded over me mid-prayer. (I still blame Kristi Cates because I heard her start to cry behind me on the platform.)  I’ve participated in three weddings (my own and my children’s) in this church, each of which has its own heart-squeezing list of blog-worthy moments. 

And there are the small things… Jim Noel coming to my office to pray with me during Amy’s cancer fight. Irene Thomas giving me Harvey’s Washington University mug. Beth Burright’s reflections on the Connections Class. Jason asking me for feedback on a sermon. Rolland Yoakum sharing a unique perspective in Bible study. Sabra Boyd and Carolyn Fulk delivering an unexpected gift a few weeks ago.

And there are so, so many more. I am beyond grateful to those who orchestrated and participated in all those defining moments —grand and seemingly insignificant.

So the question becomes, how can we be intentional about creating moments for those in and around our church community? Certainly, our worship team tries to do that for us in our worship services, and we are the weekly beneficiaries of their thoughtfulness. But the job belongs to all of us. And the opportunities extend well beyond the sanctuary walls. It’s what we chose to share in Bible study or small groups; it’s how we interact in the hallways and Welcome Center; it’s our work in the nursery or as we navigate a committee meeting; it’s how we represent 2BC beyond 300 E. Kansas; and it’s how we reflect Christ — when we’re in the mode and when we’re not. 

For those unmoved by the opportunity in creating moments, perhaps a greater motivation lies in the consequences of inaction. Those times we didn’t engage, didn’t say “yes” to the opening,  didn’t contribute to the conversation, didn’t look, didn’t see. 

As John Greenleaf Whittier’s character Maud Muller lamented in reflecting on her own missed moment...“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Certainly in matters eternal, each moment matters. Chances are, as a reader of this blog, you can pinpoint the moments, and the people who created those moments, that drew you to Christ, and that propel you along your course of faith. Pause right now and thank God for at least one of them.  

One of my favorite parts of our recent 175th-anniversary celebration was the focus on our own “stalwart saints.” Just think about how many of those stories involved a specific moment that transpired between the saint and the teller. It wasn’t just about the person; it was about a moment with the person. Each of us has the ability, the obligation, in fact, to create those moments. And to what greater purpose than to strengthen another’s Christian faith? 

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