Do we recognize new life when it is trying to emerge?
I have literally mowed over young plants springing up in our lawn that I did not recognize as flowers my wife had planted. Without paying much attention I moved almost effortlessly into a pattern of work that I had been doing regularly for a long time. The familiar routine was good and right–I needed to mow the lawn–but I did not attend to life that was emerging in places I did not anticipate.
I’m thinking about this in connection to ministry. Some of us are involved in religious organizations that have been around for a long time. I teach at a seminary celebrating its 5oth anniversary and I worship at a church that, last year, commemorated its bicentennial. In these spans of time we develop patterns that make a lot of sense in our context.
But do we recognize new life?
Recently a new Facebook group began gathering together folks with an interest in this very thing–“Quaker Church-Planters.” That’s an idea we don’t hear much about these days! After the burst of corporate-business patterned ‘church growth’ that blazed through in the 1980’s there hasn’t been much public discussion, among Quakers at least, about “planting” new meetings and new ministries. There is more attention given, these days, to tending the already seeded and mature lawn–even those areas dried out and probably in need of re-sodding.
So, how do we discern where new life is trying to emerge? How do we attend to it, encourage its growth, cultivate it, and help it flourish?