Counterintuitive Moves

Can you name something – anything – that’s going really, really well?

This is not a rhetorical question. Please add your things-are-going-so-well contributions in the comments. Seriously.

I talked with some public school teachers recently who believe the educational system is broken. I have a police officer friend who believes the justice system is broken. Everywhere we turn – from government to politics to elections to banking to climate to media – things seem a little unglued.

And then there’s The Church. Pastors and other leaders are wondering how to adapt and if they have the energy to adapt post-pandemic.

The common reaction to Times Like These involves:

  • Clinging to all the things we’ve loved in the past from BBQ fundraisers to traditional Vacation Bible School.
  • Turning to the tried and true volunteers who have been in charge forever.
  • Cutting costs.

If we want energy, if we want excellence, we need to look to our Counterintuitive Savior – the One who said Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth and The first shall be last and the last shall lbe first. Jesus turned many things on their heads. Let’s be like Jesus.

Our school teachers are exhausted and demoralized. What if our government forgave the student loans of all public school teachers?*

Our police officers are exhausted and demoralized. What if our justice system allowed police officers to receive more training in de-escalation and culture building and less on military drills?

Our justice system in the United States has failed hundreds of people who have been found innocent after already serving decades in prison. (Check out this story about Darryl Hunt.) We have long focussed on punishment instead of rehabilitation. Imagine investing in – first – assisting those exonerated citizens who have been broken by the system to give them trauma counseling and job training. Imagine helping those in transition out of prison to build new lives that serve the community.

And in Church World . . .

Imagine long term volunteers stepping aside to let someone new be in leadership. The usual thing is to keep the old guard doing what they do for stability. The counterintuitive thing is to equip new leaders and then cheer them on and don’t micromanage them.

Imagine letting go of institutionalized events that “we’ve always done” but – secretly – there’s no energy to keep doing them. The counterintuitive thing is to do is to stop doing that Strawberry Festival in June and discern what new thing God might be calling us to do that nourishes us with more than strawberries.

Imagine making a concerted effort to invite non-Church people to join us. Instead of welcoming Christians from other churches, what if we invited the local sheriff, the local high school principal, the local community social worker – regardless of their faith tradition – to come to our worship services and tell us what they are seeing in their daily work. Maybe the Spirit will open our eyes to new needs, new possibilities for outreach.

Imagine things going really really well in the name of the One who challenges us to look at the world in a new way. Instead of a tyrant, our Messiah was a baby born in a cave. Instead of a political despot, our Messiah entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

Jesus is moving us in new ways. Let’s not miss this opportunity.

If your Church is stuck, get together with a small group of faithful leaders and ask God to show you what to do. Do not be surprised when it’s the opposite of what you’ve always done.

*I can hear you asking, “Who’s paying for all this?” I believe that we could afford to pay for this and more if we had the will to do so.

4 responses to “Counterintuitive Moves

  1. Just finishing our latest book group conversation, this time using Krista Tippett’s ‘Becoming Wise: an inquiry into the mystery and art of living.’ Each session (by zoom, 2 different times/groups) found participants more energized at the end of the conversation/sharing. We’ve added two extra sessions to the planned schedule because participants wanted to savour the content and conclude with a focussed discussion on ways we each/all intended to incarnate the insights/learnings for real in our lives.

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  2. This seems so trivial but we are able to be in Arizona and go to two baseball games next week. But Zoom (and other platforms) have allowed us to be in our Sunday services and continue with Adult Ed and even attend a meeting that was important for me to be there.

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