This past weekend we had a group from Ministry Architects come to our church to engage in a very detailed consultation of our Family Ministries. They had an incredible amount of wisdom to share with our church. While I’m not directly involved with the Family Ministry Team it was a powerful experience to hear them share (with the larger church body) their observations and recommendations for moving forward.
One of the consultants, Eric, used a great analogy that I thought would be worth sharing here. With a church that has been in existence as long as ours there is the tendency to look back on “the way it was.” I’ve blogged about that temptation here and it’s one that I’m very familiar with. Not just in church life, but also personally. We often view the past with the proverbial rose-colored lenses that cause us to remember it being better than it really was. In short, nostalgia is often a fickle friend. To illustrate this point Eric shared this example:
Imagine you are talking with your wife. You’re reminiscing about the past and you casually tell her, “you know, my ex-girlfriend was really hot.” Yikes. I’m not going to go into detail in regards to how that would roll. Suffice it to say, it would not be a pleasant experience.
I catch myself doing this though. I’ll say things like, “We used to do this…” or, “Back when I was…” One of my strengths is context, which means that I look at the past to understand the present. It’s a great strength, but as with most strengths, there is a weakness attached to it. Looking back too much can cause fixation on a place or time that doesn’t exist anymore.
The antithesis to this is to learn from the past, but focused on what God is doing now and trusting Him for the future. This is applicable not just to our ministries, but also to our personal relationships. I read a tweet a few months ago that sums this up rather well: You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
Let’s be thankful for what God has done, but also be reminded that He is consistently doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). The joy in this is His invitation to be used by Him as He does the work that only He can do.
Til next time,