Toto We Are Not In Kansas Anymore
Growing up, one of the things I hated was the movie the Wizard of Oz. To this date, I don’t know that I have ever watched the entire movie from start to finish. Yet, I use a line from the movie all the time, “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.” Yes, the Land of Oz was very different from fictional Kansas in the movie. In 1982, I took my first full-time church position and the church landscape has changed significantly.
My youngest son also has begun his first full-time church position. I pulled down part of my professional library. Six boxes of materials, of which Luke found only a handful of books that were worth taking for his first ministry position. Wow, when a book prior to 1990 is irrelevant, we really are not in Kansas anymore.
Two mighty disruptive forces are at work reshaping the church landscape. Forces of the “Nones” and the “Lesses” are also having a profound affect on our church and Biblical Communities as well. So the question that I have been pondering is, how does the church keep from being swept away? How does the church, our church, construct a power plant to harness this new river?
Here are some thoughts that I will come back to and visit from time to time. First, assume nothing. With so many “Nones” (no church attendance or background) and “Lesses” (believers with far less frequent attendance) as leaders, we cannot assume any Biblical background or understanding. If we are studying Ephesians or Leviticus, maybe sending a link to a video could set the stage for deepening discussion. An email to the group with some basic background might also be helpful. Maybe appointing your apprentice leaders to take five minutes to review last week’s lesson for those who missed might be worth while use of precious teaching time.
Have you noticed that I like age-graded Biblical Community/Sunday School groups, but never seem to enforce them? Yes, I know how old your group is. Not the point. We have to emphasize to our group members to make more organic connections with people around the relationships that are naturally occurring. Our Pastor Jared would use the word ENGAGE. Emphasizing personal relationships with “Nones” and “Lesses” has to become a priority for our Adult Biblical Communities/Sunday School Groups. Pastor Jared has challenged us to write the names of people we are seeking to ENGAGE. Maybe this should be the last five minutes of your hour together. Maybe have huddles of two or three people, each praying for one name and how they can interact with them this week.
Unlike the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” which has a run time of an hour and fifty-two minutes, it is going to take an investment of more time than that. We will have to EQUIP more leaders and provide more space for those we are building relationships with. We will have to invest time in encouraging our group members to be faithful and involved. It is more important than ever that when someone is absent from the group that we make quick contact with them.
I hope this has given you something to think about as you lead your group over the coming weeks. It is certainly something we will revisit in the coming months as we seek to reach people for Christ and involve them in the great Kingdom work of being a disciple.