Everything old is new again. Or at least that’s what the famous old song says.
In these tentative days of socializing and no mask-wearing, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Along with the uncertainty of whether to mask up or not, whether to hug or shake hands or not, whether to accept that party invitation or not (forget about airline travel – apparently we’re ALL doing that!), there’s a sense of newness about those things. Like sleeping in your own bed after a long vacation, it feels sooooo good.
So this got me thinking about how we sometimes undervalue the old ways, tossing out old items, antiquated practices, and even relationships, rather than renewing them. We live in a “start-up” culture which can make us think that in order for something to be valuable it has to be brand new – something never done before! But we’ve witnessed in the past 18 months a desire for the old ways…just maybe with a few tweaks.
Tweaks like working remotely, video meetings instead of in-person, hybrid classrooms, and washing your hands more frequently (duh). For the church there is much to consider as we move forward from the pandemic: balancing online and in-person worship; more creativity in youth education; robust online programming alongside opportunities for in-person connecting.
These tweaks are what author and theologian Greg Jones calls “traditioned innovation.” It’s the creative work of fostering newness in old ways. For churches, this means examining our traditions, practices, and even our discipleship (how well are we following the One who calls us?), so we can bring a fresh imagination to what we do.
Will you create along with us? Now is the time for innovative leadership and I don’t just mean from the pulpit! The church is one big body – the body of Christ to be specific – and it will take all parts of the body working on this to move us into the future. Some churches are surely seeing an increase in attendance (we are!), but regardless of church growth or not, most parishioners are, at a minimum, rethinking the way in which they interact with and connect to church.
So here is a question to ponder – and I mean really meditate and pray on: How do we cultivate and create a purposeful, life-giving, hope-filled, flourishing future?
Consider your own inner wisdom and let the Spirit guide you. What would you do? How can you be part of a dynamic and growing Christian tradition (no, that’s not an oxymoron!)? Where might God be asking you to lead or help direct the future of God’s church?
Drop me an email, call me, text me…I’d love to know what you know. The pandemic reminded us that we are all in this together. So let’s continue to run the race before us. And let’s push into the future while staying focused on the God who is continually making all things NEW.