A few years ago I had an early morning flight from Buffalo. Eight inches of snow on the way. “Good thing I’m getting out early,” I told the shuttle driver. His reply?
“Ah, this is Buffalo. No big deal.”
It’s just the Buffalo environment. Right? Lots of snow?
I suppose my driver and everyone else could curse the snow but…
“No big deal!” Buffalo invests in snowplows. They’re ready to roll in their snow-laden environment.
Florida and Houston…their environments? They invest in hurricane evacuation plans.
California? Earthquake contingencies.
We moved to Nashville a few months ago. I’m not sure what Nashville invests in but our neighbors tell us that it’s not for snow and snow plows. “Once or twice a year the city shuts down with ice or snow. Everyone stays home.” NO snow plow investment.
2017 is a couple of days away. Everyone agrees that for the church and for us as leaders, it’s a much different environment than it was in 1997 or 1977.
But most churches are making the same mission and ministry investments they did 20 or 40 years ago.
Better to curse the new environment than make new investments.
- We expect teaching and preaching alone to form faithful disciples.
- We expect people with no faith to suddenly be motivated to come to worship.
- We expect the newest church program being marketed to be the difference.
… just like people remember they used to do.
And then we curse the media, politics, the conservatives or the liberals, the millennials or the boomers of our 2017 environment…without changing our investment for this environment.
Jesus had a lot to say about investment. Look at some of the parables and stories He told.
Paul seemed undaunted by his environment.
I’d propose that 2017 for you and your leaders needs to be a year that’s more about making a new investment than it is about cursing the environment.
My guess is that 4 things will most likely keep you or your congregation from a different investment:
- You undervalue what you’ve been given. (You compare.)
- You overvalue what you could lose. (Particularly true for churches.)
- You confuse preserving the beloved past with living out the Mission of God.
- You underestimate God’s ability to move in you and through you .
As a leader(s), I wonder who misses out more if you fail to step into what God has formed in you and has called you to be about?
- Those who depend on your leadership?
- The ones Jesus sometimes described as “sheep without a shepherd”?
So! Welcome to 2017. A year of investing? Cursing? A bit of both?
Leadership is hard. It’s mostly uphill.