Friday, July 29, 2011

Change is not easy

Now that Kevin is back in Jax. with us for good, I am trying to return to a more healthy, balanced life. I have my new running shoes, and I've started back to running a few mornings a week. I knew that it would take a while to get back in the groove, but I underestimated how difficult it would be to ditch my early morning leisurely coffee and reading routine. Change is rarely easy, but in my experience it is worth the hard work.

The neighborhood in which we are planting The Well has been undergoing change for quite some time. While the statistics show a reduction in crime and other illegal activity, change has been a slow process. Making matters more difficult, residents and community activists disagree on what types of changes need to occur and how they should be carried out. One of the most recent breakthroughs came with the beginning of the demolition of a long-time vacant inn that had served as a haven for the homeless (but not a good one, since the building was unsafe and unstable). The picture above shows the work that has begun, but like the rest of the road to new life in the community, it's going to take a while.

I find that the road to starting a new church is similar. Like community development, church starting and re-starting requires patience and determination. Even more than that, it requires confronting those habits, routines and assumptions that keep me from seeing all of the options available for the path ahead. This week, I realized just how limited my imagination can be as we began looking at alternative meeting spaces. One space almost looked too tied to the past, and the other too lacking in history. As a friend and I began to talk about reconfiguring the seating and adding a few elements, things started to look different. It never fails that when I feel "stuck", it is because I am reverting to old patterns of the way things have always been done, to what is comfortable and familiar. Pioneering a new way of doing and being church is difficult because it challenges me to risk that new, untried, innovative options are more effective, and sometimes they are not. The willingness to choose a new path, the willingness to change, inevitably involves failure. Some of those failures will be really small and others will be big, there for all to see....another thing that makes change so difficult for me.

I've decided that there is no better place to be trying something new than in Springfield. There seems to be almost no limit to what people will try to create new life in this community - neighborhood bike rides to expose suspicious activity, community gardens to improve health and environmental stewardship, a Relay for Life to bring the neighborhood together around a great cause, new and unique businesses (organic candy, the best coffee shop in Jax., yummy ice cream combined with financial literacy , and an awesome home-style Caribbean cafe to name a few), and a chili-cook off to have fun and support a local charity. Yes, change is challenging and is certainly not the easier path, but it's nice to be in like company. It's fun to be pioneering with other dreamers who don't mind failing to help pave the way for a better, more hope-filled future for a community.

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