A Whack on the Back of the Head

April 14th, 2012
This article is featured in the Change (May/June/July 2012) issue of Circuit Rider

In a recent story about a new TV show one detail caught my eye. It turns out that the most watched shows at 10:00 p.m. ET on Mondays are not the episodes playing on the other channels that hour, but programs captured on DVRs earlier and replayed at 10 p.m. It turns out that the new show’s chief competition comes in a form much harder to anticipate and deal with than was previously the case.

And so it is with churches. Whether the impact is from shifts in family systems (interfaith marriages, kids who rotate weekly to different households, competing community activities), disrupting technologies (are folks tweeting you during the sermon yet?), an increase in options for alternate worship settings (different music, venues), a creeping sense for some that the church is irrelevant, or the limitations of parking lots—the factors affecting church participation and effectiveness are swirling, changing, and coming in new ways from unexpected places.

What are the “whack on the back of the head” discoveries about change and challenges that you are uncovering in your community and church?

All of us acknowledge the value of being fully attentive to all that’s happening around us, affirming the benefit of teams of people who bring additional eyes and ears, critical thinking, and fresh perspectives, and praying for courage to take thoughtful risks as we walk with confidence into uncharted territory.

But we need a little help from our friends! We have to find ways to regroup when we are surprised, misstep, or when disappointment comes and to imagine alternative ways forward when we are frozen in place and facing what seem to be giants roaming about just over the border in the promised land.

As we eagerly ask “what just happened?” “what if?” “why not?” and “what’s next?” we depend upon  support from renewed covenants of shared ministry and mutual support. We look for places where we can fearlessly tell the truth about fears and quandaries, we count on prayer partners and we look for trusted friends who will help us expand our thinking and shape innovative approaches.

We hope this issue of Circuit Rider provides touch points you can discuss with lay and clergy partners who promise to watch each other’s backs as together you press on!

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