Part two of a three-part series, shared with the permission of Rev Dr Steen Olsen. You can read part one here.
Solving our Problems
Previously, when an issue arose, we often immediately tried to find a solution. We had a problem, so we looked for a new program, different music, more friendly people, more relational preaching or even an Albanese-style makeover for the pastor [ok, this pastor could definitely do with losing more than a few kilograms.] We saw problems as technical issues that could be fixed, so we looked for a ‘fix’. We did strategic planning and sought incremental improvements that would finally make the whole show deliver the desired results.
That works well with many issues and problems and involves important skill sets (think of a surgeon or engineer who have important technical skills). However, increasingly today the church is facing adaptive challenges that cannot be solved with our existing knowledge and skills. That works well with many issues and problems and involves important skill sets (think of a surgeon or engineer who have important technical skills). However, increasingly today the church is facing adaptive challenges that cannot be solved with our existing knowledge and skills. We therefore need to make changes to the way we approach our difficulties in our rapidly changing environment where there are no clear answers. We can’t just change the world, our structure and programs.
We need to change—the first work God needs to do is in us. If you like, both leaders and others need to adapt and learn new ways of being, not just new ways of doing. That involves ongoing transformation. It will involve loss. It will involve upsetting people. It will involve refocusing what we understand to be our ‘mission’. It will involve renewing our understanding of who we are as the people of God and why we are here in Christian congregations. That is not something we can do on our own. It is fundamentally relational as we grow together with others in our communities. It places approaches on the table that we have taken for granted for centuries. It will still involve technical competence and we will still need to comply with the laws and regulations of our countries, but that will not be enough. There will be opposition and sabotage. We will need to rely on our God in ways that Christians have done in many times and even today in many places, but which we have mostly forgotten.
Questions for reflection and discussion:
What ways have you tried to fix things? What have you tried?
How do you learn new ways of being with God, of being in this world?
What relational things do you in your setting?
How are you equipping and empowering people around you in this changing world?
Would you like help to dig more deeply into this discussion and possible next steps? Contact Pastor David, Kathy or Tom from your LCAQD Ministry & Mission Team via email@example.com or phone 07 3511 4000. Or see https://qld.lca.org.au/ministry/ for more resources.
Rev Dr Steen Olsen is a retired pastor of the LCANZ, a former director for Mission of the LCANZ’s South Australia-Northern Territory District, former president (bishop) of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand and director of its Media Ministry.