What comes next?

“What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own
Awesome, wow!
Do you have a clue what happens now?” – King George III, Hamilton

Although Lin Manuel-Miranda wrote these words for King George III to sing on stage following the success of the American Revolution, sections of these lyrics keep buzzing in my brain as vaccines are distributed. That tunnel is still frighteningly long, but I do believe there is a light at the end of it.

What then? What happens when we’ve been freed from some of the restrictions that have become the norm this past year? What will we keep from this experience?

It’s easy to get caught up in deserted island dreams… thinking about all the things we’ve missed that we will do once life goes back to normal. It’s becoming increasingly clear that those dreams may be unfulfilled because our context has shifted significantly. History suggests that we either adapt or…

In her book, The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle makes the case that every 500 years or so there is some event that changes the context so significantly that the church responds accordingly. Given that the last significant change was the printing press and the Reformation… we’re due. Tickle writes that the result of these changes is “the Church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale.”

If y’all aren’t cleaning the attic, you need to start. Now.

Time to lean into not just the physical cleaning (although I do know of several congregations that are taking advantage of this season to physically purge the church closets of all sorts of things) but also the organizational overhaul that will be essential in the months to come.

What will you keep… not just from our pre-COVID lives, but from this new reality?

What needs to be tossed, and who will do that work?

Do you know how hard it is to lead?

Where do you begin? It’s possible to approach this Marie Kondo-style (if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it!), but that assumes that joy is the metric by which we measure our work together. I believe that where we begin is in determining the essential values of our organizations and holding up our activities to that light. What from this COVID-era resonates with those values? What about the patterns of activities and behaviors prior to the pandemic are in step with who you say you are?

Of course, King George ends his bit repeating an earlier line: “you’re on your own”. You’re not, you know. We do this work together and with God. Let me know how I might help.

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