Of course, settling and opening are not mutually exclusive actions. But then, why do so many of our church board meetings proceed as if they are?
Seth Godin has observed:
Here’s how we’ve organized traditional schooling:
(You’ll have classes) that will certainly follow the syllabus.
There certainly will be a test.
If you do well on the test, you will certainly go on to the next year.
If you do well on the other test, you’ll certainly get to go to a famous college.
After you repeat these steps obediently for more than ten years, there will be a placement office, where there will certainly be a job ready for you, with fixed hours and a career path.
People telling you what to do, and when you respond by reciting the notes you took, people rewarding you.
We’ve trained people to be certain for years, and then launch them into a culture and an economy where relying on certainty does us almost no good at all.
Broken-field running, free range kids—that seems like a more robust and resilient way to prepare, doesn’t it?
Who’s teaching you what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?
Church leaders need to be preparing – each time they gather – for the time when the certain thing doesn’t happen. Navigating our ministry contexts, absorbing our culture’s strains and preoccupations, and hearing our world’s groaning—we know (for certain) that we are most often in the grips of uncertainty. We don’t gain certitude by passing budgets, designing programs, crafting position papers, or writing a new mission statement for our congregation. Our certitude is God. Our foundation is our experience of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Our direction is the wind that blows from the Holy Spirit.
It’s time to be certain of one thing: that when we gather to discern the next steps for our congregation we are going to go deeper biblically, deeper spiritually–and we are going to learn to use our theological imagination to guide us.
Think of your ministry setting right now: Who or what is teaching you what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?