It is true that Terry Gilliam stole the title “imaginarium” from us and applied it to his devilish movie. The five people who knew about that movie before I just told you may have had trouble taking our “rolling Council” meeting seriously. Nevertheless, the others had a very visionary Imaginarium in February. Recently we have simply answered this question when we meet: “What is God telling us?” What moved the group in February was pondering what it takes to be what we have imagined and what it takes to lead it. We are implementing the vision of our “second act.” Things are loosening up, changing, and growing. What do we do now?
Here are five things that God seems to be saying to us about moving into what is next for Circle of Hope. It is amazing that all this good thinking happened in one hour!
Our “second act” is like when the kids are in high school and we get a miracle baby.
- It has disturbed the homeostasis. Some of us have to get used to imagining ourselves as parents when we were already settled into our post-reproduction phase.
- Our system has become pretty secure. It is good to have it disrupted because it needs to be disrupted to expand. Further leaders need to emerge. Pastors need to turn to equipping others and to not being overly in charge.
- If we follow God’s lead through this change we will win the battle we are in. But there is a remote possibility that we won’t have the faith or follow the vision. We are taking the risk to meet the challenge even though we may prefer avoiding failure rather than risking success.
Many of us are at the tipping point when our attitudes change and we think we can sway something.
- We have stokeable imaginations. We can get fired up. This is a good trait.
- What we are talking about becoming in this year’s Map takes prayer. If we are praying all the time, we can see it God’s way and we can be it God’s way.
- Some of us have felt overwhelmed — like we were foster parents to a giant baby called Circle of Hope. It was like the baby was foisted upon us and we were not exactly ready to parent. We fell in love with the baby and we decided to raise it. Now that we are raising it, it feels like our baby.
One of the main calls to the Leadership Team is to pick up the load. Be responsible.
- To be responsible probably means a change in how many of us see ourselves. We can’t lead if our faith is locked inside “personal salvation” boundaries — that means faith is something I get for myself and it mainly lives in me. We’re talking about having faith that is about others and about the cause, not locked up in our own survival, preference or good feelings.
- One of us gave an analogy of this based on how they have changed their gardening practices. In the past their garden was not very thought out. They planted what was given to them or went with half-price plants at the end of the season. This year they have already been germinating seeds under the grow lights in expectation of spring. We need to be the kind of people who foster spiritual seedlings, not just wait for people to find us, not just think of ourselves as afterthoughts or leftovers, and not mess around with “whatever” until the season for planting has passed.
- To pick up the load means being active as opposed to passive. We can be a movement or a monument (or even a mausoleum if we don’t watch it).
It is tempting to wait and see what is happening, like you’re watching someone else’s show.
It doesn’t matter if we switch around our leaders and do inventive structural changes if the church is not moved by the Spirit. If there is no movement there is nothing to steer.
- One of us said. “If I say it, I’m more motivated.” They meant they need to talk about what they are doing because that helps them own it. For instance, people sometimes don’t want to say “I love you.” They don’t want to say it until they absolutely mean it. Some of us, even the leaders, don’t want to say, “I’m going with the ‘second act.'” They are waiting, doubtful.
Our best stuff is in the wings ready to move on stage.
- We need to stoke what is coming. We have spent three months doing that. We switched our pastors around and founded “the hub” at 13th and Walnut. A new picture is taking shape. We deployed new local site supervisors. We refocused all our pastors more on making deeper and further disciples and less on administration of their locales. We began to refocus Rachel on being the BW Development Pastor. Our Compassion Core Team took up the challenge of getting us ALL out there in compassionate service.
- We are meeting new people who want to be responsible. They want to build an army for the spiritual battle of our time.
- A new proverb seems to be developing: The new person is a role you did not know you needed.
- We even started to catch up with our sharing goals in March.
It is an exciting time to be a circle of hope in Philadelphia. There is certainly no shortage of hopelessness to fill with a bright future! It is exciting to be Circle of Hope, the people of God, too! We are filled with possibilities and we have the vision and leadership to make them happen.