It’s a trap, especially for church boards.
When people come back to worship post-pandemic, then we will be able to feel a vitality again.
When we get the right pastor, then things can begin to fire on all cylinders.
When these troublesome members leave, then we can finally do good ministry.
When we get our giving up, then we can think about reaching out.
When we figure out how to reach young people, then things might fit together.
When we get everyone to agree on X, then we will move forward.
“When/then” comments are common, understandable, and dangerous – especially in September, a time when boards look back and then forward and can find themselves wishing for a different set of opportunities and challenges. “When/thens” can lead boards to delay, deflect, or stall.
Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians with a sense of urgency about the nature and purpose of ministry – and about what he saw as God’s expectations for our work. From chapter 6:
As we work together with God, we entreat you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For God says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Look, now is the acceptable time; look,
now is the day of salvation!
Now. Not someday. Not once we have things lined up. Not once we have studied it some more. Not when we fully understand the work of God in our context.
At God’s initiative.
And by God’s saving power.
There is no waiting for everything to align. God doesn’t wait. God is at work – for and in your church and your church board – now.
One of the markers of a vital faith community is a sense of urgency. In ministry, in worship, in mission, in faith formation, among all generations, as faith meets culture – something important is at stake and needs to be addressed by every church and every church board … now.
by Mary Oliver
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Why not hesitate, according to Mary Oliver?
What do you make of her use of the word “Anyway?”
Reflect in your context on Oliver’s final line, “Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
What “when/thens” are tempting you as a board right now? What would they delay, deflect, or stall?
According to your board, what is now an “acceptable time” for?