I go to meetings.
I talk to people.
Here’s a paraphrase of what I hear, “We’re doomed!”
People are losing hope. Hope they have for raising children to be well educated. Hope in having jobs. Hope in paying bills. Hope in the future of our communities, our churches, and our schools.
I live in a region of the country that has historically been economically depressed. Here people have seen their children have no choice but to move away for work and to raise their families. It hurts. It hurts when grandparents have empty homes at Christmas. It hurts when they look around and realize that no one wants to come back to inherit what they have built. It hurts when we realize our schools and churches are going to have to close because they have always been the centres of our communities.
The solution, for a long time, has been to wait for the government to bail us out. But the problem is the government has not been very productive lately. Costs are ballooning for everything while income is decreasing, so programs need to be reduced or cut. The government realizes it is on shaky ground politically, so doesn’t want to take chances because it could spell the end of their term in office.
In the meantime, our schools wait nervously for their budget numbers coming in the next couple of days while facing continuing decline in enrollment for next year. Our churches go to their annual meetings where many see the end approaching very quickly due to declining membership and givings. Our energy providers want huge rate increases because their dependence on outdated fuel supplies is costing them far too much money.
So when I go to meetings and all I hear is “Poor us!” from the leaders of our communities it bothers me. It bothers me because they always get so blinded by trying to make the money work for what already exists and has “always been done that way.”
Last I checked, we are in the 21st century. The world has changed dramatically in the last 70 years, and while processes developed in those days worked well, I think some of them have outlasted their usefulness.
It’s time for new leadership to step up and take our communities and institutions in new directions. Where old ways have become stale and/or useless, then maybe we need to think of new ways of doing things. We need to be willing to take risks. If it fails, good! Let’s learn from the experience and try something else.
If you’ve been in leadership for 20 years, maybe it’s time to step aside and let someone else step in with new ideas. How does it help build an organization when you shoot down new ideas because it’s something you’ve never tried before? Why are we so afraid to fail we ignore the voices of potential new leaders who want a turn at trying out something different? How much longer can we last can we steer a sinking ship without attempting to rebuild the rudder to get it somewhere where it can be fixed?
I am so happy to be invited to be part of a new movement trying to encourage and bring together new leaders in my denomination. We are bringing together 4 existing groups who are barely alive (one has actually dissolved) in an effort to refocus and move into a new direction with new energy and ideas.
This needs to happen in many places. We are at a point in our history where people are willing to talk openly and plainly about the troubles we face, so let’s embrace the opportunity.
We need to rethink how we do things. Yes our history is important and must be respected and remembered. But now is the time to rethink. We are on the brink of life or death in many aspects of our community life. We have the tools. We have the people. Let’s bring them all together and see how we can fix the problems of the world, before it’s too late.