Author’s Note: This post concludes a 3-post set offered in companionship to a 3-part sermon series I preached in August titled “Distracted”. You can view the series here, as I preach from 3 of John’s 7 Letters to the Churches in Revelation 2 and 3 to talk about the distractions of busyness, the fear of missing out, and complacency. Thanks for reading.
There is an old fable about a frog who was put into a kettle of tepid or lukewarm water. He was quite comfortable in the water and so stayed there. Gradually, however, the water temperature was turned up until it came to a boil. The change was so incremental that the frog did not perceive the danger and he was cooked to death.
Perhaps that fable is an illustration of complacency and the dangers such a condition poses to our faith. The living Christ describes the Church at Laodicea, in Revelation 3:14-22, as “lukewarm”. He wishes they were either hot or cold, but because their spiritual condition is lukewarm, he threatens to spit them out of his mouth. As a coffee drinker I find I can relate to the illustration. I like my coffee hot or cold (iced coffee being a relatively new enjoyment). When it’s lukewarm? No thanks! Yuck! In fact, I think I have spit it back into the cup before.
I took up road cycling a few years ago and truly enjoy this form of exercise. I try to work in two to three rides a week as my schedule permits. Cycling gets me moving, and away from what can at times be a sedentary work life. I find it physically challenging and mentally rewarding. In addition to the cardio and muscular-skeletal benefits of cycling, it’s amazing what a 20 to 30-mile ride can do for one’s mental and spiritual health. Which brings me to the topic of this blog post. Prayer has become a companion practice to my routine of cycling.
Daniel M. Cash and William H. Griffith
The following article is an excerpt from our book The Changing Church. This article is soon to be published by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership in their online newsletter Leading Ideas.
Leading is a challenge in the most tranquil of circumstances within congregations today. When you add the layer of introducing or working toward change on top of the myriad of things already required, “challenging” may feel too soft a word. But there are ways to lead past the common internal and external obstacles to change.
- Know that relationships are key.
Being a person of impeccable integrity is without question a
need in any public leadership role, most especially in the church. Taking time
to know and love the people whom you lead, including those who are at times
hard to love is also important. In a word, it comes back to relationships. Good
leaders, leaders who earn the right to lead change, know that relationships are
key — building them and maintaining them. Mobilizing the right people to
support the change initiative is far easier when one already has a solid
relationship with those people.
“Phyllis Tickle, in her book, The Great Emergence, quoting Anglican Bishop Mark Dyer, suggests that about every 500 years the church has undergone a significant change. She refers to these periods of change as “rummage sales” and states that we are in the midst of such a period today. Tickle identifies former 500 year rummage sales as The Great Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517), The Great Schism (1054—Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic), the leadership and influence of Gregory the Great (540–590—following the fall of Rome and start of the Dark Ages), and the Crucifixion of Christ, which led to the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
I, (Dan), despise rummage sales, but it seems to be my fate in ministry to have served congregations that used them for fundraisers. Here’s my view on how they work. People bring their junk, their cast-offs, the stuff they want to get rid of (rummage) to the church and clutter it up. A committee spends an inordinate amount of time sorting through it all and arranging the rummage for others to peruse. Then, on the day of the sale, folks come with an eagerness to riffle through other people’s junk, finding prizes they simply cannot live without and paying pennies on the dollar to haul it away.