Last night I watched Nik Wallenda and his sister Lijana cross a highwire stretched across Times Square. 25 stories up.
It was mesmerizing.
Just two years ago, Lijana fell off a high wire, breaking virtually every bone in her face.
Through two very hard years of recovery, she was back at it.
Some would say it was wreckless risk.
But the Wallenda family, as you probably know, has a deep history of risk-taking.
George Bullard recalls:
March 22, 2019 was the 41st anniversary of the day Karl Wallenda, patriarch of The Flying Wallendas, fell 75 feet to his death while walking a cable strung between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In reflecting on the time around his death, his widow explained that during the months preceding his death Karl transitioned from a life style and attitude of confidence and courage, to one of fear and precaution. He morphed from being an aerialist who lived to fly across the wire, to a hesitant high wire actor who was concerned about the fear of falling.
This fear of falling or failing is today known as The Wallenda Factor. It refers to people and situations where the fear of failure smothers the joy of soaring. It refers to people and situations where problem-solving erases an affirm and build process, where counting the “no” votes is more important than counting the “yes” votes, and negatives are more important than positives.
Congregations who take on challenging spiritual strategic journeys are often subject to The Wallenda Factor. They fear the possibility of failure as they travel along their journey. They focus on fixes rather than solutions. They seek to bring everyone along with them on the journey, and would rather halt the journey than leave anyone behind.
The Wallenda Factor is particularly expressed in congregations when a threat of some type is present. People often are afraid the threat will become a full reality, and that the congregation will be harmed. Much of their dialogue is around the possibility of something negative happening to the congregation, rather than the opportunity to soar that is often also present during a time of threat or challenge.
Does your congregation soar with the collective spiritual gifts, life skills, and personality preferences of the people connected with it? Or, does it focus on not failing, and thus takes few, if any, risks to minister to the people God has placed along the path of their journey; much less to engage in cutting edge discipleship development for people connected with the congregation?
Is it concerned that if it fails that it will possibly lose some of it strengths, capacities, and even members who are necessary to continue the quality and quantity of ministry to which it has become accustomed? Or, is it open to the new thing that God is doing in it, and gladly risks comfort to pioneer new areas of ministry into which God is leading it?
Are the leadership gatherings of your congregation filled with challenging dialogue about the emerging ministry trends of the congregation, and the possibilities for unconditionally sharing the love of God? Or, are their filled with cautious dialogue about the scarcity of finances, the lack of available leaders, and the necessity to not move forward if there is one person not in favor?
What do YOU think?