by Jerry Chiles
- Don’t panic. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “A panic attack causes sudden, brief feelings of fear and strong physical reactions in response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations.” When we panic, we do not see any possibility of moving forward. We must begin to breathe and recognize God is present with us in the midst of the attack, but is not the creator of the attack.
- Move forward. God is a God of leading us forward. We must realize choosing to do nothing is going backward unless we have chosen to rest or contemplate the future. He led the Israelites through the Red Sea. He gave a Son to redeem us. He wants to lead us to newness.
- Don’t be overwhelmed. Several writers talk about the new church and a new direction. Don’t try to throw out the baby with the bath water. Start with being thankful for the people you have and not despondent about the ones you have lost. Assess where God is already at work in your church. Recognize these areas and use them as the foundation to build on.
- Take time to discern. God is revealing what new thing he wants for the church. Call together the leaders and people of vision and spend time in prayer discerning what God is trying to show. What is Holy Spirit nudging you to do? A congregation must be cognizant that its ideas may not be God’s ideas. This is “Holy Indifference.” Begin by removing your personal ideas and start with what you are hearing from God. Some ideas may be revealed quickly and others may take extensive prayer.
- Utilize your strengths. Assess your leadership skills and recognize the way you best lead. For some it is leading the charge. For others it is putting forth other leaders and supporting them. It will be very exhausting, if you use styles and skills you do not possess. Utilize your strengths and lead with them. God called Moses to lead, and Moses chose Aaron to be the spokesperson.
- Be honest. In the discernment process the church may discover God is not calling the church to go back to the way it used to do things. Be open with the congregation. The new way may involve loss, but the gains will be worth it.
- Take small steps. Most of us want to finish quickly. Neil Armstrong said as he stepped on the moon, “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind”. Christ’s church began in Jerusalem, then Peter opened it to Gentiles. Thus began the growing of the church. This journey is not a sprint but a marathon. We may not see where God is taking us, but we can follow; yes, with baby steps.
These thoughts are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister. Email him for more information about how he can help you.