Churches will need AGILIITY

Oct. 6, 2022

By Rev. Rick King

New series: Five unsettling trends in the culture and how the church can meet them
I. Churches will need AGILITY amid continued instability

After writing this column for going on five years, it’s occurred to me that what I hope it does most weeks is to give us a lens through which to see the world differently, the world into which God has placed this church.

In the next five weeks, we’ll look at five trends in the surrounding culture that should give us pause to think about how we can meet them by responding with curiosity, creativity, and collaboration in the form of unlikely partnerships that turn out to work.

This week, I’m hearkening back to a book we read at FHC in fall 2019, before the pandemic hit: The Agile Church by Dwight Zscheile. Agility will help us continue to be flexible, adaptable and responsive to continually shifting conditions. The pandemic was a disruption to many, if not most of life’s rhythms and assumptions. We talked early on about “a new normal” whenever the conditions permitted it.

But I look back on the past two and a half years, and I see how “normal” was already in the process of dying as far as politics, economics, society, and culture were concerned. The pandemic’s disruption made that death final. As much as we are talking again about “a return” to coffee hour and other things, we are aware that things are NOT going back to the way they were. That reality has set in.

If we look at most cultural markers, but particularly our politics, which is moving rapidly toward violence as the midterms come near, and the economy’s ills, we see that ground is constantly shifting, in the midst of great change and upheaval. I read and recommend a book I read late last year, George Friedman’s The Storm Before the Calm, in which he reminds us that there have been periods of great disruption throughout history: We’ve been here before. And right now, we’re moving into a period of even greater economic and political change that won’t stabilize until the 2030s.

But if we continue to practice AGILITY, we can respond to the rapid shifts that characterize our unstable circumstances. Agility can lead to optimism, creative responses to challenges, and new partnerships to address needs.

We learned how to pivot pretty quickly as a church the week of March 9, 2020. I don’t think we’ll forget how to do that any time soon. Let’s not be afraid to!