Every week I come across an article promoting a view into the church’s future. Church strategists will publish e-newsletters, podcasts, and email campaigns with church trends and prognostications. I assume these links have a high click count as everyone hopes the latest insight will give them a sneak peek into the future.
Most of the time the authors talk about online church, institutional flexibility, and facility usage. Yet the other day one church scholar caught my attention. He spoke about being in the middle. We can talk about pre-covid times but we are not yet in a post pandemic time. Our movement through this middle phase has taken longer than anyone wants.
The idea of a middle moment extends well beyond the pandemic. We may be between jobs, or at a transition point in a relationship, or in the middle of a move. There are many ways we could be living in the middle. Reflecting on this middle phase brings us to King David.
In the Bible, the reign of King David was a golden age of ancient Israel. His reign was known for success, expansion, and glory. Yet becoming king was a bumpy path for David. The transition of power from King Saul to King David was marked by drama, intrigue, and difficulty. David was anointed as the next king when he was an adolescent but did not become king until many years later. During that middle part of his life David steadied himself with songs and poems. Several of his Psalms were written during this time and there are clear themes woven through them.
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge…
I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Or perhaps my favorite one:
Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy…In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
We are all asking a lot of questions about when and how we will leave the middle. Yet David addresses his question by returning to his rock and his refuge. When swirling uncertainty surrounds, David sought to ground himself in God.
It is important that we watch societal trends, and that we listen to our needs of our community both within the walls of the church and those beyond. And it is vital that we brainstorm new ways to connect with each other and with God.
Yet before we jump to a program or a promised insight into the church’s future, let us reaffirm our trust in God. For king David, writing poetry and songs helped him remember who God is and how God acts. His writing help him remember that in times of uncertainty trusting in God is always a good investment.
May we make the time to root ourselves in faith and remind one another that God has led his people through challenging times before, God can and will do so again.