No risk taken.
Just keep doing what you’re doing. Curse the world for not getting it.
The church is frequently complacent and comfortable. Many leaders are tired and have long since stopped dreaming. They are just trying to survive.
There is no need for “Fear not!”
“Fear not” is replaced with “hang in there.”
I was given some vivid examples this past week in the learning community of Christian leaders that we are privileged to facilitate:
A new pastor in a struggling church wants to make some Sunday morning changers to a 4 service schedule where each service averages less than 100 attendees in a sanctuary that has a 475 seating capacity. In suggesting the potential change in an effort to realign stewardship of personnel resources there is an uprising an threats made to leave the church if you “change the time of my worship service.”
Another leader trying to get some understanding as to how the programs of the church are actually helping contribute to the mission of the church, meets so much fear and resistance from those who they are engaging in the dialogue that she simply ends the conversation.
Another ministry in a changing neighborhood has an amazing facility which is owned debt free. It includes a Fellowship Hall that is rarely used. Any effort to come up with ideas to use the Fellowship Hall for community events and programs that could help this ministry connect with people and their need for space in the community is met with significant push back from the Church Council. “This is our building. It will not be overrun with those kinds of people.”
Yet another ministry leader is staying at the church until 10 pm most nights trying to get all the work she needs to get done to provide the materials for programs that have had zero impact on actually helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus. She asks to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs and her workload. She is told by the Board to work more efficiently and is encouraged to get some training in time management. She is so frustrated. On the verge of hopelessness.
I was reminded again this past week why I wrote and am working diligently to get my book Fear Not Dream Big & Execute out to Christian Leaders.
The church in a vast majority of places is not currently nurturing an environment where leaders are encouraged to dream.
At our PLI-Missional Leader Learning Community, we hear the stories again and again from leaders who are living in fear and discouragement to try new things, to break new ground, to venture out. There are exceptions, of course. You may be in a place that is dream friendly and loves experimenting with new God-inspired ideas. You may be a leader who is encouraged to use your unique gifts and calling in the place where you serve.
But, most of those I talk to and work with feel a sense of stuckness and are afraid. They feel a profound sense of fear. They are afraid of rejection and failure. They assume on most occasions that they will be resisted AND hated. Sometimes, under pressure to conform to the desires of those who want what they want, or under the scrutiny of an institution that largely says, “This is the only way. Don’t move off the comfortable path”, they shut down any notion of “what-if-we-were-to.”
Like working on an assembly line, producing religious goods and services week after week they have long ago lost any urge to create, to stimulate, to ignite new and fresh approaches that might just produce Kingdom fruit.
CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. IT CAN BE DIFFERENT.
AND, IT MAY JUST START WITH US, CHRISTIAN LEADER!!
BE ENCOURAGED TO GO WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU TO GO!!
This is why I wrote the book: Fear Not Dream Big and Execute.
Let me close with one final conversation I had a with a pastor who is retiring from the ministry early in order to pursue some opportunities to write and lead others to discover their unique voice in the world. (Which could be a beautiful marriage with the local church. It is possible for his dream to coexist in the local church, but it won’t in this case. The church simply cannot embrace the idea.) So, he will retire on June 3rd.
We were discussing briefly that we thought the church should be a place where experimenting is the norm not the exception. I used the metaphor of a greenhouse. “Why can’t the church be a greenhouse for creativity and entrepreneurship? Shouldn’t it be?”
You speak of “greenhouses” and “entrepreneurism”. For these to exist, there must be experimentation. For there to be experimentation, there must be doubt. We must admit we do not know something or are uncertain about something.
Doubt is not something we tolerate very well in the church. We like to be certain.
Realizing dreams most assuredly yields uncertainty.
Tell me one leader in the scripture that followed God’s lead fully certain of the result.
You won’t find one.
Perhaps that is why FEAR NOT is such a frequent word from God.