Remembering the Good Old Days (in Ministry)
Earlier this week I found myself in a conversation with a ministry leader who was tasked with rethinking the ministry that they led. Coming into the position, they were asked to restore the ministry to its past glory and help it thrive... like it used to.
Five years ago I sat in a lecture by Walter Brueggemann where he spoke of the danger that nostalgia has on the church and on our culture as a whole. He suggested that the "good ole days" were never as good as we remember them to be... and that perhaps our goal shouldn't be making things just like they used to be.
More than a decade ago I sat in a meeting at a church I was involved in that was discussing their missions strategy. There had been a decline over the last several years that the church was having difficulty explaining. Missions giving and participation were both down, with no indication of a turn around in sight. The leadership suggested that we just needed to do more of what we had been doing, in order to reverse the trend. After all, "they wrote books about us, twenty years ago..." All we needed to do was more of the same, a little bit better, and things would be just like they used to be.
I am convinced that the one thing that kills a church's vision more than anything else is pining for days gone by. When we spend more time looking back at where we have been, as opposed to where God is calling us to next, we miss incredible opportunities to reach the world around us in ways we never imagined.
The truth is, things are not going to be the way they used to be (and honestly, we probably remember them differently than they really happened). The choice we are faced with is to embrace the future that God is calling us to... or lament the fact that the past has passed.
One of my favorite parts of serving churches through Chemistry is helping them lean into the opportunities that God has for them in the days to come. Whether it is through finding their next staff member or helping them develop a strategic plan, it is exciting to me to see the church embrace who God is calling them to be now and five years from now... and then see the fruit that God produces through them.
I'd love to help your church think through where God is calling it to.