Saturday, February 03, 2007

the good old days

We all have memories of the good old days. Which means that any change process challenges the past. Take on a missional church leadership challenge and you face the history of a church and the values and habits of it’s members.

But don’t think this post is irrelevant if you are part of a flash, new, emerging startup. We planted Graceway Baptist Church, aged 25, thinking we were the newest thing on the church block. We had gathered a team, workshopped our core values, prayed, listened in the local community. I was washing clothes at the local laundromat, incarnating myself in the local narratives.

Week 2 and I left a message, asking one of our team to lead worship. He rang back, “So what’s the pattern, Steve.” Bright, young, one week into a church plant and he is searching for memories.

Every person that enters your church has memories and carries notions of what church should look like. They might get it from Mr Bean or a priest on TV. They might get it from previous church participation. But we all have memories of the good old days and change challenges these memories.

What to do with the good old days?

Visit one on one. Shows you are a listener, but takes time.

Ignore them. This can make things look good on the surface and serene in your office, but you might just be corking an explosion.

Shout louder by using the pulpit, or your knowledge, or your use of the Bible, to maximise your own voice. Again, this can make you feel good, but you might just be corking an explosion.

Our staff team has a pattern of gathering around Scripture. We are all part-time, committed to living and working not only in the church but in other forms of work. So we need a way to be gathered and scattered. Our current pattern is to share a common set of lectionary readings, to pray on Tuesday and every second Friday we gather to drink coffee, read the lectionary text and engage in some form of lectio divino.

Hence a 4th idea: New and old listen around Scripture. This Friday I invited some our older members, with long memories to join us. We read Scripture together. I then invited those with long memories to share one memory of one time when the church had come close to living out the Scripture that had just been read. The new on the block pastoral team listened. And then we prayed for each other.

How might this help a change process? For a start, the Scriptures, rather than the good old days, or a shiny new emerging idea, start our conversation. New and old are sharing time and text together. The work of God in the past is honoured. The voices of those often marginalised in a change process are heard, but in a context of Scripture and affirmation, rather than complaint. And if the new staff listen carefully, they might just begin to sense more clearly the historic pathways by which the God who began a good work in the good old days might carry it on to completion into the changing world that is our tomorrow.

Posted by steve at 11:17 AM

1 Comment

  1. cool idea of incorporating different perspectives! I like it!

    Comment by Deb — February 7, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

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