The next faithful step

A few days ago, I was talking with a leader here in ECMN, who said, “I’m not sure where the summer went! We’ve been going at a breakneck pace since January. How are we going to keep this up when the fall gets here?” We laughed, but he put his finger on something important. In my travels and conversations with y’all, I’ve heard a lot of us observing the overwhelming pace of life and ministry this summer.

My sense is that we’re all in yet another wave of reinventing. COVID forced us all to reinvent our household routines, our work routines, and almost everything about the way we be church together. And as vaccines and new variants rolled through, we had to reinvent again… and again. That change came with fear and anxiety. Tt wasn’t our choice, and we moved into it kicking and screaming, or bravely, or both at the same time. For two (or was it three? Or ten?) years.

Now, we’re in yet another wave of reinventing ourselves. Death rates have fallen, masks are optional, boosters are available, and things are going back to . . . normal? And now from this late July moment, we look at the fall and see another chance for a new start. In our personal lives, school and work routines, family reunions, sports and hobbies and faith have all gone through massive shifts. Beyond the need to reinvent patterns, many of us are asking what we actually want to return to – whether our pre-COVID rhythms fit in the fresh light of 2022. A collective brush with death has turned some of us toward meaning and purpose in new ways. In our experiences of faith, the past two years have had massive impact: We learned to pray differently, we wrestled with God and with our anxiety, we found new ways to encounter Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit. All of this means that we’re a globe full of individuals who are ripe for big change.

Alongside all that, our congregations are gearing up for another program year – trying to read the COVID tea leaves while making guesses about how our members will be able to engage. While juggling hybrid worship and meetings. The patterns that we relied on last year may not hold up in October. So we’re trying to predict an unpredictable future, while loving and caring for a whole lot of people who are asking big unwieldy questions about themselves and the world and how God is moving in it. That’s a lot of churn, friends.

This much foment can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I believe that in the midst of this kind of chaos, the Holy Spirit is breaking in. When ‘the way things have always been’ is taken away, we get to look for, and pray for, the Holy Spirit to blow through and help us see new ways of living that look more like God’s dream. We get to be gentle and generous with ourselves, pause, pray, discern, and then take the next faithful step. We don’t have to be able to see the whole picture at once; we can take one step at a time, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In the midst of all of it, my hope is to curate and connect you with resources that can lighten the load and let you focus on the one most important thing: living as disciples of Jesus, as students of the Way of Love.

To that end, as you look toward the new start coming in September, check out the resources in this email and in this printable flyer. Deepening your own discipleship, easy-to-access training for lay volunteers, and courses for building your skills as leaders are all here in abundance. It turns out that there are many things you don’t have to reinvent, and there are some easy buttons you can hit. Our hope is to free you up as much as possible.  All for the greater purpose of making space to be restored by closeness with Jesus so that we can live boldly the Good News of God’s love for the world.