Sometime BC (Before Covid) I was listening to Craig Groeschel interviewing Whitespace Founder Juliet Funt. It was fascinating and informative on emails, deadlines, white space to think and practical strategies for the workplace.
At one point they use the image of gardening to describe the problem of change. Trying to change normal working practice in an established work culture without changing the culture is like trying to plant something in concrete. In the end, the concrete wins.
Forward to week 4 of lockdown in March 2020 and that’s the image I was using with the ministry team. Our congregations were thrown back on their own capacity to sustain their spiritual life at home, many on their own, and many with Netflix for company. At best we (the team) were scattering seedlings for people to plant but with the suspicion that the ground had not been broken up and prepared and the soil was not fertile.
We realised that we didn’t really know what individuals did in their own time. Read? Mostly not. Listen to sermons online? The figures show they don’t. Even the now year-long committed zoom groups confess they aren’t going to watch this Sunday’s message. Pray? We’re guessing.
It turned out that in all our work Before Covid, while we were focusing more on delivery than receptivity, we had forgotten to break up the cultural concrete and till the soil for personal discipleship.