THOUGHTS FROM PASTOR LIZ DAVIS
Dear People of God,
I’ve been studying leadership and change at the College of St. Scholastica for the past few years. A change theory developed by Kurt Lewin talks about change occurring through an unfreeze-change-freeze process. Behaviors become a part of the culture because they work. When they no longer work, it’s time to change. A new behavior needs to develop that is more adaptive. But, we all know it’s not easy to change! Lots of times, we continue to function in ways that don’t work because we’re stuck. We get used to the way things are. Lewin taught that a group needs to come to an awareness that change is necessary, then make the change, then “freeze” or solidifying the new behavior in place.
In Lewin’s model, change happens as people slowly accept that something new needs to happen. The struggle is not only to make the change but also for that change to stick. I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes we’ve lived through recently, the new behaviors that have stuck around, and the changes we need to make to live as a healthy church and faithful Christians.
Changes to our church participation happened two years ago when our schedules were smashed like crushed ice with national lockdowns. Whatever regular church participation looked like for you, it changed quickly. You formed new habits over these past two years and you’ve developed reasons for making the choices you have. I know there are a lot of feelings about what’s happened. I can’t think of one person who would have chosen for the pandemic to happen. You may be angry with the decisions that were made by your council or the decisions that are still being made. You may be angry as someone who was a part of those deliberations. You may be fine with the way your church has handled the last few years. You may be out of the habit you once had for church participation. Right now, I’d like you to think about the habits and feelings you’ve frozen in place and to wonder if that’s really working for you, or if you want something better.
The gospels’ descriptions of Jesus’ ministry are full of Jesus working to help people adopt a new outlook: the culture of the Kingdom of God. Most of the early adopters were those for whom the culture wasn’t working: those in poverty, those who were sick or not valued in society. They knew that change was needed. Jesus started to melt away the habits of creating outsiders and judging others. He started to create a new culture. Then Jesus was killed. People don’t like to change! It’s easier to get rid of the one questioning the way things are. When God raised Jesus from the dead, God declared that the new way of life Jesus was teaching is the way of life God wants for us.
Jesus’ resurrection shatters the way things are. If dead, something we assume is a constant presence, can be destroyed by God, so many other things we assume must be about our lives are brought into question. Things don’t have to be the way they are today.
As we celebrate the season of Easter, exploring what it means for us that Jesus died and rose, think about how you’re living your life and the church culture we’ve been creating. Are you living into Jesus’ Kingdom of God, breaking down boundaries, creating peace, and serving your neighbors? In what attitude do you approach another person? Does anger or love come easier?
During the pandemic, we scrambled to do what needed to be done for the good of our community. Some of the effects have been isolation, disconnection, and suspicion of each other. Those habits have become our groove. It’s time to break free into something better. Be an early adopter who sees the value of community, compassion, and joy. Get excited about discovering Jesus’ way of life and replicating it. Seek Jesus’ kingdom, acting in love, working for justice, and worshipping faithfully. Together, we can find a new way to be. God is always drawing us closer to the life we were meant to live.
God is with you!