WE ARE NOT GOING BACK TO NORMAL
That’s the message every business, charity, and every church needs to get hold of today.
I am a very hopeful person – since I met Jesus I have it on the best authority that I always have reason to be the eternal optimist. That is the message I want to share with all those who are grieving and that we are helping at this time as ‘the church has left the building.’
However I’ve also found it tough to share in various ways what I hope I am wrong about in some meetings and conversations with leaders recently who seem to think we’ll soon be back to some kind of business as usual. Nobody likes to hear that the Titanic is taking on water and we are now moving into lifeboats. The band plays on.
Then I read the article that I urge you to click through at the bottom off this post and said, “Maybe I’m not crazy.” Well not about this anyway.
Ronald A. Heifez wrote in his eye opening book Leadership On The Line says leaders need to learn to at times get down on the dance floor where the action is, but also must get off the dance floor and up on the balcony because . . . “The only way you can gain both a clearer view of reality and some perspective on the bigger picture is by distancing yourself from the fray.“
That’s why I urge you as a leader doing a great job in the thick of things to also do the smart thing and read the article at the bottom and talk with your teams about it. It is written by very credible leaders (Andy Crouch’s book on Power has been a core text in my teaching for Westminster Theological Centre for years).
They say don’t see this as a blizzard you can wait out or even a winter to get through, but ‘a little ice age.’ I find that very helpful.
In a blizzard, you hunker down and snuggle up, shut the windows and turn the heating up. Come out a few days later and it’s as it was.
Wise people prepare for a long winter. They don’t hibernate completely but go out differently. They know it’s going to be tough and prepare accordingly.
Even a mini ice age changes the landscape. When you come out, everything’s changed. What do we do in these three viewpoints.
Crouch et al tell us, “Radical innovation is the only way forward.” I found their ideas so helpful and instructive and you will too; here’s a quote to whet the appetite.
“The priority of leaders must be to set aside confidence in their current playbook as quickly as possible, write a new one that honors their mission and the communities they serve.”
All our old certainties must now be replaced by faith. We have prayed that we would be like the church in the Book of Acts – you have to be careful what you pray for.
Acts 2 was house churches (no buildings for 300 years), where everyone (women too, get over it) was a leader if they were a Christ follower. By Acts 6 they were struggling to organise support so they empowered more leaders. By Acts 8 persecution was all that would move them out of comfort and into revival. Acts 28 ends up with Paul in a house for two years in Rome awaiting trial by the Emperor – and Acts 29 is now and being written in our day as the Spirit of Jesus is still moving.
That’s why as I pray with hope no matter what. Because I believe that what will emerge the other side of this ‘little ice age’ really will be a church like that in Acts – stronger, scattered, humbled, purified and (in most places), poor and persecuted, glorious. Perhaps the authentic church will not be the allowed and authorised church. In any case, what comes out of the box won’t fit back in. Welcome to the NEXT NORMAL. You’re invited to be part of it.
We are being humbled by circumstances but humility is a choice and a response not a given. I am speaking now to church leaders, because judgement begins with the house of the Lord. We can bury our heads in the sand or our hands. We can try to carry on regardless. Or, we can receive the graceful invitation of the Father to leaders in the west – to humble ourselves. To learn whatever we can, while we can from brothers and sisters in the global south and the nations on Open Doors watch list – who have been church in places some of us may have visited in mission trips for a week or a while, but will be home for many in the next generation.
We must now equip the saints for that which none of us is fully equipped.
Let’s watch and pray, and lift up our heads – trusting the One who is with us in the boat as we go through the storm. There are so many unknowns – but we are known by the One who knows the end from the beginning.