I’m sure we’ve all heard this at one time or another. Our first instinct is to recall an instance where we were in trouble as children and heard our parents make that exclamation. Let’s look at that question from another perspective. What…in God’s name…is going on here? What can we say about our church, our ministry, that is where we most see God? Where do we most invoke the holy…the sacred. Where do we see God working hardest in the life of our congregation?
Chris Rankin-Williams, an Episcopal priest and writer, made the statement, “The challenge of this life is to stay in Love” on September 16, 2001…think about that date for a moment. In the days following the tragedies of September 11th, he said, “The challenge of this life is to stay in Love.” Most people believe the challenge of life is to stay alive, but he contends that it is to stay in love.
For churches, the same holds true. Our challenge is not to stay alive, but to stay in Love. Too many times we focus on the problems of the day instead of focusing on the things that are life-giving. Biologically we are hardwired to focus on what is wrong instead of what is right. I’ve heard that for every 5 neurons in the brain that are wired to ask, “What is wrong?” there is only one that will ask, “What is right?” I have no idea of the validity of that statement, but I do know of the human propensity to seek solutions to ‘what is wrong’ as opposed to seeking answers to ‘what is right.’
Barbara Fredrickson, psychology professor at UNC Chapel Hill who has worked extensively on the Positivity Ratio says that when the daily ratio of positive to negative emotional events is above a 3:1 ratio the human mind becomes expansive, creative, resilient and reparative. If the ratio is less than 3:1 the mind becomes linear and unable to think beyond the rut it finds itself in. If we, people and churches, continue to ask ourselves ‘what is wrong?’ instead of ‘what is right?’, then we are continually placing ourselves in the position of a lopsided ratio which holds us in ‘ruts.’ In these ruts we will forever find answers in working harder at what does not work. If we try what isn’t working harder, we just get deader quicker.
The Renewal Team is working hard seeking ways to renew: to spiritually renew the self, to renew a sense of passion about our ministries in our people, to renew our commitment to the needs of our community, to renew our sense of knowing God’s presence in our lives, in our worship experiences, in our ministries, to renew our commitment as faithful followers of Christ. To do this, the goal is not to fix what is broken in our church. They don’t even work from the premise that things are wrong. Their goal is to celebrate what is beautiful, wonderful and life-giving. The purpose of this team is not to take away from tradition or what you hold dear, but to lift up and magnify what you find wonderful about our congregation, our people, our faith-filled community. We want to know what you see is the “BEST” of us. We want to know your stories of where you saw God in our time together. Then, we want to build on that…to celebrate that…to find ways of re-creating MORE of that! Renewal is not a matter of letting go…it is about clinging more tightly to that which we LOVE above all else. Our hope is that we learn together how to STAY IN LOVE, not just stay alive.
What, in God's name, is going on here?