This week I was part of a Zoom meeting with a denominational leader and the conversation was about making plans for the fall, including setting up seminars and workshops for renewal for Classis Chatham churches. An important piece in the conversation concerned the many unknowns, not just for churches this fall but also for denominational leaders in their giving direction for the future. As always it will need to include some serious listening to churches on the ground in the real-time issues that we will face. It may be that future planning will be LESS about ‘the 5 year plan’ and MORE about ‘what will get us through this three month period and then on through the next. It made me think of a word we had planned to investigate in a special council session this past spring; the word ‘liminal.’ ‘Liminal space’ has to do with the in-between time during which you are letting go of some former ways of doing things or thinking and reaching out to grab hold of what’s next—but without fully knowing what you are reaching for.
Author Susan Beaumont (“How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going”) discusses liminality, saying this about entering this unknown space... “I don’t think it makes it easier, but I think it should make us more hopeful. Every one of the great biblical stories that we delight in is a story of liminality. Every one of our biblical heroes is a story of someone transformed --who went from an old identity to a new identity. We can see that in the figure of Moses. We can see that in Job and Jonah, in Abraham and Sarah. Everybody is drawn out of, “I was this kind of person in this settled place, and then that identity undid itself and God took me to a new identity.”” (online interview -https://faithandleadership.com/susan-beaumont-leading-between-season)
This pandemic has no doubt added to our sense of living in an in-between season. As God leads us through this moment, what might we learn? -EGN