I am freezing!
If you live anywhere in the contiguous United States you probably are too. It’s so cold that… Yeah, people are starting to say that every time you see them. Pipes are freezing, schools are closing, and heating bills are rocketing.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with freezing cold temperatures but they can bring some unfortunate side effects. They can also afford some of the most beautiful ones, like this picture taken by a friend in Louisville where the temperature dropped so fast, the fountain looks like Elsa herself used her magic touch.
The theme of Frozen works well for a movie but the effects of frozen don’t coincide well with ministry. It’s not unusual to find ourselves in a place where we are “stuck” in something – a routine, a way do doing things, a program or an attitude. We hear things like, “We’ve always done it that way” or “That program has worked for ____ years” or “It is what it is; don’t fix what ain’t broke.”
It is important, in both our homes and our churches, that we don’t allow the beauty of something to disguise its negative effects.
Frozen ministry or “stuck” programming fails to recognize that our children and youth, our culture and economy, are in a constant state of metamorphosis whose needs change as different events frame worldviews. A classic example is the age-segregated model of “silo” ministries where generations don’t interact with each other. While the model appears to “work” because age groups get to be together, the negative effects of compartmentalization, lack of intergenerational relationships, and division in the church can’t be ignored.
If you see that there are ways that perhaps you’ve gotten stuck in a frozen practice or ministry, here are three ways to warm things up and start a thaw.
- Review your programs/activities every 2-3 years – Three years ago you started monthly faith talks with your kids on Sunday nights and they were great! Now, you find that they aren’t participating like they used to. Trying to force things back to “how they were” isn’t going to work. Consider what has changed (school needs for Monday morning, tired from the weekend, content needs revamped?) and critically review what is in place. This is especially true for churches – just because something worked well in 2010 doesn’t mean it does in 2015.
- Talk to your participants – Our tendency when we find something works is to plug in and start steaming ahead. We get into our routine and we know what to do when. But if we aren’t communicating with those we are working with or serving, we run the risk of freezing them out… literally. Need some questions to get the conversation started? Check out this great article by Carey Niewhof entitled “7 Leadership Conversations Every Church Team Should Have in 2015”
- Let go of the Beautiful Things – This is so hard. When we have seen good things come from something we have done, it can be hard to… “Let it Go!” Don’t let the good things of the past keep you from grasping the GREAT things of the future. Be brutally honest about the changes that have happened since you started and be willing to recognize you may need to change too.
I love how Christ modeled this concept of warmth and fluidity in his ministry. In one day, he could be eating with “sinners” and dining with Pharisees without skipping a beat. His words spoke right into hearts and his teachings appropriate to each situation. He wasn’t afraid of change, even rapid change, and he never appears frozen by location, community, or circumstance.
If you are stuck inside today, why not take a few minutes to see if there are any frozen areas in your life and ministry? Ask some tough question and start a thaw. As the song says, “Greater things are yet to come.”