It feels a lot like we have been in a darkened movie theater for the last year, watching the same pandemic picture show play over and over and over again…and now have walked out into bright light. Our eyes are struggling to adjust and refocus.
For your church board, this momentary blindness can be frustrating, even deeply vexing. We take for granted our capacity to refocus quickly; we expect to have our vision snap back into focus, and we struggle trying to make it happen. (Anyone who has recently had their eyes dilated during an exam can relate.) But trying to force focus achieves nothing in these moments; patience, and trust, are all.
The perfect avocado, Godin says, is a wonderful thing. “[E]very once in a while, you’ll nurture an avocado until it’s at the peak state of flavor and texture. You certainly aren’t going to waste it. You’re not going to sacrifice it to some sort of smoothie, or even hide it in a sandwich. That’s for the other kind, the less precious ones. And yet…
The “and yet” offers a caution for this moment of refocusing. Godin continues:
This Zoom call we’re on, the precious one, where all the right people are on the call, at the same time, ready to see and be seen – you’re really going to spend the first ten minutes having us go around the room and say our names? Really?
This gathering we all came to, back when we could, or when we can again – we’re really going to sit at tables for 10, shouting at each other, while we tolerate loud music and eat lousy food?
…Time is priceless…don’t waste it if you can. Treat it like avocado time.
How has your view of time and its preciousness changed in the last year, and how is that affecting how you look at the programs and gatherings of your congregation? Honestly, if the answer is “we really haven’t thought about it much” or, “it really hasn’t changed”… then it is time to STOP and consider your new relationship with time and ministry immediately.
It is also time to STOP and consider what you are using time for. And this is where screwdrivers come in. Reflecting on their uses, Godin observes that you can use a screwdriver to open a paint can, or to turn a different kind of screw than it was intended to turn, or even to stir your coffee, but those uses are not recommended. “And yet…”
Again, his “and yet” offers us a caution for this moment of refocusing:
And yet we can ask the same questions about your website, your advanced degree, your office building… Or this meeting, that job description or the choice to work a nine-hour day. What’s it for?
If it’s a tool, not a destination, what’s the tool for?
One-size-fits-all ministry wasn’t working too well 15 months ago, let alone now. As people emerge into the light in the coming months, bringing with them a deeply felt need for connection, a struggle for life’s meaning, a yearning to make a difference, what is the ministry you offer for? Does it match these new, refocused needs? Or are you trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver, while wasting precious avocado time?
When in the past 15 months have you most experienced and cherished time’s preciousness? As individuals? As a church board? As a congregation?
How are you approaching time now, especially face-to-face time, whether in person or online? Are you treating it as precious? What can you do differently?
As you re-open the tool box of congregational life, what do you find?
What are these tools for?