By Peggy Hahn
My muscles ache from pruning my garden all weekend. One of the joys of living in Texas is that we get to start gardening in February! As I was experiencing huge satisfaction from cutting back the over-grown rosebushes, perennials and groundcover in my yard, I couldn’t help but wonder, why is this such a rewarding experience when I am so reluctant to cut back in other parts of my life?
For some reason I have more confidence that the garden will be improved by pruning than I seem to have in almost any place else in my life. Why is that? Why do I feel more hopeful about re-growth in the yard than I do in my personal life, faith life, calendar-driven life or anywhere else?
You know where I’m going with this before I say it: Why do we resist clearing out the rubbish in our ministries? It’s not a big surprise that our emotional attachment seems to be much greater to programs in the church than they are to flowers in our yard!
Yet here we are, in what I believe is the Spring of our Leadership Season, with many opportunities for leaders to grow. We have had years of decline in our church and have all had enough of the hopeless winter decline. It is time for new growth, new ways of thinking and time for growing new leaders.
The only thing the leaders of the early church had easier than we do is that they didn’t have to prune away their own growth! We must step back and look at our congregations through the eyes of our children, grandchildren, neighbors and strangers. We must ask hard questions like: Why do we have a hymn board next to the screen? Clearly two very different eras of technology for worshiping God in song, right? Or, Why do we spend hours each week developing printed newsletters for our members when we ignore the front door of our congregation—our website? We automatically do what we do because it is easier and we already know how. Why are we reluctant to learn new things?
Christian leaders have always been confronted with a changing world. As we move into the season of Spring, adaptive leaders will have to cut back old ways in order to grow. Every stalled congregation in the church has the capacity to grow. There are congregations around us showing us how to take little steps into the future. Check out this list comparing the practices or growing and stalled congregations. Please don’t add new things without cutting back on others. Leaders burn out if they can’t exercise their muscles pruning. Now is the time!