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Below this is the full text of Pastor John's article
In the past I've been part of events where we'd do a wrap up, often a few days to a couple of weeks after the event. These sorts of things are important, especially if you are going to do them again in the future, or because they were of such significance that they are going to impact how you do things going forward.
At those wrap ups we'd review general feelings of how it went, talk about the logistics, budgets, organization, and things like that. However, some of the most important parts of the conversation would come in what we learned. I remember one event that I helped plan and we knew we had a good topic, one that was important for the folks that were in attendance, and that could have a very big impact on the churches they were a part of.
And we still stand by that thought, but we learned an important lesson from that event. We thought that we were setting up our day so that the folks in attendance would be familiar enough with what we were talking about that they immediately understand what our speakers were presenting. We were wrong.
This wasn't anything on the speakers or the folks in attendance, but we learned that we fell into the trap that many fall into. We'd spent so much time on our topic, thinking through what it meant, and we were naturally more inclined to understand what we thought its basic implications were, that we missed the fact that our attendees weren't in the same place we were. Most of them were not used to having the conversations we'd have or have spent as much time thinking through it as we had.
There's two different ways that you can go after something like that. You can take the route that says the attendees weren't smart enough to understand what was going on (rarely is that the case), or you can say that we didn't know enough about our audience, and we must do better in the future. We chose the second one.
I say that because we're in a similar place now. The temptation is to go back to things as they were, to return to "normal." I've seen this happen in a lot of ways already. It's very easy for us to fall back into the habits we had in the past. The trouble is that we haven't done many of those things for at least a year and we're a little rusty. We also know that many of those things were struggling to stay working like they had in the past.
This means a couple of things for us. The first is patience. The thing about falling back into the habits of the past is that not all of us fall in the same way at the same time. For a while it's going to be good to have good conversations with folks and not just assume that things will work like they always have, because the past year has taught us that "always have" isn't as long as we think.
The second thing means that even for the things that come back (and not all will) we need to think through them. Even if we do them the exact same as we have before, they are going to mean something different now. This is a big opportunity for us to breathe new life into things that have become stale.
This is also an opportunity to do new things as well. This is why, as we go through this Summer, we'll have some time to talk about what we've learned, what worked and what didn't, and what our hopes are for the future. For all that has happened, we have to take time to learn and grow. In this, we will see the Holy Spirit at work, and I'm looking forward to what it will be telling us.