Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Emerging Greatly

Something that a wise woman said to me over the summer keeps haunting me. She said that people are opposed to purposeful change because in order to pursue change one must admit that that which is the current approach is no longer working. In essence; admit that something is wrong...and no one ever wants to admit that something is wrong!

I know I've mentioned that before on here, but like I said, it keeps nagging at me. I have seen this in my own life. Ever since a year and a half ago when I was fired from the church I was working at because of power trips and protecting the status quo (see this post for the story), I have allowed myself to get depressed, lose management of myself, and completely change my lifestyle. Where I was once always bright, hopeful and energetic, I now found myself slow, sedentary, and pessimistic. If depressed is the opposite of vitality, then I was surely depressed.

Lately I've tried to take back control of my own life and one of the first things I realized I needed to do was loose the wait I had gained since losing my job. My wife has had a lot of success with Weight Watchers and so (along with many other new-years resolutioners) I signed up Monday. It focuses not on being a diet, but a change of lifestyle. And that is exactly what I need... I need to change my lifestyle in more than just my eating habits in order to completely move past the pain of being burned by people and a place I loved.

Before Monday could happen though, I had to come to a point where I was ready to admit that something needed to change. Something was not right, not optimal in my life, not VITAL, and thus CHANGE NEEDED TO OCCUR. I now better understand what that wise woman said to me last summer about change!

Of course, this hit me on a much deeper level as I've been reading The Great Emergence By Phyllis Tickle. In the first chapter she argues that the great emergence is happening in the world but churches usually take one of two positions on it. She draws a corollary between how churches approach the changing zeitgeist to how people approach changing seasons. (I've added a little to her analogy below)

1) They prepare for the upcoming season beforehand. They purchase gloves, scarves and hats for the winter, and sometimes even pull out the heavier fall jackets to address the transition even before the new season arrives.

2) They decide to wait until the new season arrives, see what it brings, and then decide if, when, and how they might change with the climate.

I would argue that there is a 3rd approach, which is simply no approach at all. This groups ignores the inevitable change at best, and argues loudly against it at worst.

Change is coming. There's nothing we can do to stop our world from progressing and changing. The question then becomes, "when are we going to admit that there is a need for us as Christians and the Church to change along with it in order to remain relevant and VITAL both THROUGHOUT the transition and when the new season has already arrived?" Like me deciding to make a lifestyle change, I had to stop wallowing in my own sloth and self-pity and become proactive. Likewise I think that many churches and Christians need to think about doing the same!

I say this, not to be degrading or cynical, but to hold a candle of hope. I don't hate the Church. I love the Church. If I didn't love her so much, then I would not have been hurt as bad as I was when she and her people threw me to the street. No, the church is like a lover who has gone astray and I pray for her return. I want to take part in any way I can in her revival and renewal. In the same way I love Christ. I love Christ even more than I do the Church. Yet since I love them both, I don't want to see them struggle and fight death and irrelevancy, because that is what many churches and Christians are fighting. I would much rather see them struggle to come up with new creative ways to remain relevant during the great emergence. Why? Because Christ is relevant as much now as he's ever been...maybe even more so than ever before. Why? Because people are searching. People are looking for a life worth living. People are looking for hope, love, joy, peace, and all of the other things that Christ brought.

It's a humbling experience to admit that something I really didn't want to face needed to change. But for my health....for my vitality...for those that I love, I sought out change!

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