Seemingly centuries ago I took classes at Buffalo State in the area of Creative Problem Solving. I loved the coursework so much that I ended up picking up a minor in it (isn’t it cool that a state-run institution offers these sorts of classes? They still do… and they have a weeklong conference in Buffalo: http://cpsiconference.com).
One of the most important things I learned in that program was how critical it was to determine what the problem is before trying to solve it. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we expend creative energy solving the wrong thing.
Currently, many of our churches are engaged in trying to solve the problem of how to bring folks back into the sanctuary for worship. I know there’s incredible creativity taking place amongst the various Session meetings who have taken up the challenge of masks, distancing, music and disinfecting. We’re also trying to manage expectations so that folks know that it won’t be the same when they return. We’re solving problems. Heck, we’re solving those problems with creativity.
But are we solving the right problems?
Here are a few questions to ask leadership:
- Why do we want to return to worship together?
- What have we learned about the church during this season of physical distancing?
- What have we discerned that needs to be strengthened as we move forward?
- What might we let go of as we move into this new season?
My hunch is that the answers to these questions aren’t as obvious as we’d like them to be.
Of course, there are parallel questions that the Presbytery needs to ask as we move into this next season. What have we learned during this season? What needs to be strengthened? What might we let go of?
Friends, let us not waste this crisis (these crises!). Let’s do the difficult work of digging deeper so that we might better love our neighbors and our God. Let’s do the wonderfully joyous and complex work of being the church.