The fire just wouldn’t take off. There was a great teepee of kindling. Some dry and aged logs were strategically placed around the kindling. And now I put some old dry newspaper and cardboard at the bottom of the pile. Three matches later, I still only had a cloud of white smoke and a few tiny embers (none of which were glowing red hot). All the elements were in place. Dry wood, a spark of flame to get it started, and plenty of airflow, so there was only one thing to do. It was time to get out some accelerant.
Gasoline was my accelerant of choice that day. And it didn’t take much. A small cup of gas, another match, and the same pile of wood, and the fire was blazing in just a few moments. That day I learned a valuable lesson, accelerants simply increase the speed in the direction in which something was already heading. Every church leader has felt this truth over the past 2 1/2 years. While I have read arguments for how the pandemic caused the decrease in church engagement, I remain unconvinced. I tend to agree with those who say:
While there are many nuances to every aspect of this conversation, I truly believe the last few years have simply revealed what was already there, existing below the surface of our culture. I think this is something leaders (especially church leaders) must accept moving forward. Engagement in our churches is not because of the pandemic but was accelerated and revealed by the pandemic. But the difficulty in realizing this is, what can we do now? Carey Nieuwhof seeks to acknowledge 3 realities and lay out 3 steps forward we can take in his article “Why They’re Not Coming Back To Chuch (And What To Do With Who’s Left)“. I really needed to hear how to step forward #3.
So while accelerants can be helpful to get something going, they often hurt if you want a fire to stop. Maybe you’ve felt like that with the pandemic. But just like any fire, sometimes the best thing to do is take the small embers you do have and fan them into a new flame. I hope this article encourages you to do that – especially if you are a leader. As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!
Until Next Time…
Photo by Nelson Roque on Unsplash
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