Part of my personality is to conveniently “forget” facts like I am reluctantly aging and I can no longer do with ease what I used to do at 35 or 40. This came back full force to my awareness when I was at the General Convention in Indianapolis last week. The last General Convention I had attended was when I was 40. When I was asked to help out with the Diocesan communications effort I was most pleased. And I planned to cover Convention fully.
The schedule for this sort of convention begins at 7 or 8 AM and continues through the day and evening often until 9 or 10 pm. In addition there is a very significant amount of time walking from meeting to meeting in a very large convention center and a good bit of standing. Each day I seemed to be walking a little slower. By the time I left the Convention Center for home last Thursday I was very tired and foot sore. (The proof of the later statement is the wedge shoe on my left foot that I have to wear for a week to help my foot heal.)
I continue to be amazed first by the fact that I am no longer 35 (the age I see myself internally) and second that I have trouble remembering that first fact. It makes me wonder what other bits of reality I might be missing. And it certainly explains other people’s incredible ability not to see what is so plain to me. We tend to work off of old paradigms. (A nearly bald, fully bearded workshop leader used this example from his own life. “That I use more shampoo on my head than on my beard is operating out of an old and outmoded paradigm.”)
I believe that churches and other institutions have the exact same problem. They operate out of who they were not who they are now – out of the culture of another time without recognizing it is a different time, different culture. Not recognizing the need for a new pardigm in response to those changes. I am lucky (?) I have a mirror I face every morning in the bathroom that shows me the changes if I choose to observe them. Our churches need to find some sort of “mirror” to continue to show them the truth of who and what they are now. And be willing to believe what they see in that mirror so we can find appropriate ways of being church for the NOW rather than operating from outdated paradigms from the 1950’s, 60’s, 80’s or 90’s.