Last week we received so many nice comments about Nancy Brainerd’s watercolor of our church building, we decided to keep using it as our ENEWS header. Thanks again Nancy!!
Friends, 
In this time of uncertainty, as we figure out how we are supposed to live in this new normal, I found this article particularly helpful. I hope you find it helpful, too. 

Blessings,
Pastor Derek
Finding Our New Normal
April 20, 2020 by Susan Beaumont 

Crisis moments call for strong, decisive action—people want to know that someone is in charge and things are being managed. But once the initial crisis calms, a period of disorientation sets in as we find our way to a new normal. The resolute leadership style that worked well during the initial crisis won’t work well in this ongoing unsettled space.

We are in a liminal season, stuck between an ending and a new beginning. The pathway forward is not knowable. The way we “did church” even two months ago is done. We have literally been thrown out of our buildings by a pandemic. We can reassure people (and ourselves) by pretending the disruption is temporary. “We will resume all normal activity soon.” That reassurance is not helpful or truthful.

No one knows what normal looks like after sheltering in place. Likely, we will resume many familiar things, but congregational life will not be the same. We are disoriented and confused. There is grief and loss.

This season requires a different leadership stance. Our actions must originate from a new center—a less busy and more yielding, soulful place. The following five practices can help you lead more effectively as you discover the next, new normal with your congregation.

1. Surrender

To surrender is to yield. We accept this moment as “just the place we need to be” to learn what is most important now. To surrender does not mean giving up or giving in. It does not mean we languish or grow lazy—quite the opposite. It means we lean into the disorientation and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Striving, rather than surrender, was the mood of the first season of this crisis. Striving is the act of working harder and longer to prove mastery, merit and worth. We hoped that our industriousness could protect people from the difficult, adaptive work ahead. Through our own hard work and determination, we figured out how to put church online. We toiled to demonstrate our care for people when we could not be physically present with them. We learned new ways to connect those in need. We’ve done good industrious work.

But now we find ourselves beyond the limits of our own resourcefulness and knowing. This next season requires adaptive learning—for leaders and followers alike. Learning begins with surrender. I acknowledge that I don’t have answers. I yield my spirit to God’s leading and invite my congregation to do the same. We attend to all that arises in response to our surrender.

2. Use the Disorientation

All innovation begins with disorientation. People must let the old status quo fail before we can embrace innovation. We should acknowledge that the status quo failed us some time ago. We’ve been falsely clinging to the old normal because there was too much pain in letting go.

The pandemic has thrown us into deep disorientation. Now, we have no choice but to let go of the old normal. We occupy space on both sides of a threshold. One foot is rooted in something trying to end; another is planted in a thing not yet defined, something waiting to begin. We cling to structures, identities and relationships formed by our old experiences, although we know that those processes and practices will not serve us adequately moving forward.

It would be a mistake to shore up the old structures and practices as things get “back to normal.” We need to take advantage of this moment to let old things die, to experiment, to take risks and learn.

3. Invite Meaning-Making

Humans cannot live without meaning. The greater our sense of uncertainty, the more desperately we grasp for a handhold, a shred of something that reminds us of who we are and where we have been. People need help interpreting the present moment given their shared past.

Part of this work is theological in nature. People grapple with the deep questions of our faith. Where is God when people are suffering? Why are we here? Is God punishing the world? Listen. Sharpen your theological edge and shape the conversations happening around you.

Beyond that, locate this moment in the history of your specific context. When have your people endured a moment reminiscent of this one? What higher values did they bring to that moment? How might those same values guide them now?

4. Define One Good Next Step

People need to know that they are pursuing something that matters now; worthy work, a shared common cause, or a sense of rootedness to something enduring. This is especially important when we can’t plan our next steps in one, three, and five-year increments. Who even knows what tomorrow will bring in this environment?

Systematic planning won’t serve you well in liminality, but you don’t have to wander aimlessly. Help people remember their passions and connect those passions to their gifts and resources. Develop a shared sense of what you are trying to learn together. Then, claim one good next step in the general direction of your shared aspirations.

5. Attend to the Yearning

Rational decision making assumes that human knowledge is enough to address the challenges we face. Rational decisions can’t guide us through the deep disorientation we face now. Instead, we need to pay attention to yearning.

Yearning is the language of the human soul.When we listen to others at soul level, we sense a collective longing that will guide us to the other side of chaos. Letting go of what once was, we let ourselves be led by God who is drawing us forward and into our future.

Discernment is the tool we use to attend the yearning. It’s a wisdom way of knowing. We drop beneath rational decision making, directly into the knowing planted in our souls. Make space in your congregation for this expression of collective yearning. What is God calling us to do or become next?

Our new normal is already with us and it is also just beyond our reach. This is an exciting time to be the church if we are willing to stay in the disorientation for the time it takes to discover our next chapter.

—–

Susan Beaumont is a consultant, coach and spiritual director. Susan is a practical contemplative. She works at the intersection of organizational health and spiritual guidance. Specializing in the unique dynamics of large congregations, Susan’s work focuses on staff team dynamics, board development and leadership in times of transition. Rev. Beaumont is the author of How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going and Inside the Large Congregation. She is co-author of When Moses Meets Aaron.

https://www.congregationalconsulting.org/finding-our-new-normal/

The Church in Aurora is looking to hire a part-time Director of Communications. We know that having a strong online presence is important to any organization, and we think we need to enlist some help in this area.

If you are passionate about getting the word out and you’d love to be part of an organization that wants to make a difference, then this position may be a good fit for you.

It does require some:technical savvyrelevant education & experience (marketing, PR, communication, etc.)If you, or someone you know, would be interested in this position you may click here to view the full job description. Resumes should be sent to dhickman@tcia.cc.
Do you or someone you know play guitar? 

We are looking at the possibility of developing an alternative worship style (once we can return safely). To do this, we need folks who can play guitar (preferable) and sing. 

If this is something you would like to help with, email Pastor Derek (dhickman@tcia.cc). 

Hi parents,
 
Well, I guess summer is upon us!  The end of this school year is definitely different than those in the past.  Hopefully your family can regain some degree of normalcy without the stress of online learning.
 
Summer is a great time to ponder some of the big questions that we all have.  Kids and adults have all sorts of questions about God – Why are we here?  Who is God?  Is everything in the Bible true?  Faith is believing in something even though we have questions.  Sometimes the logistics of the Bible can be confusing in light of what we know about science.  The Bible and science shouldn’t be enemies…they can work together as friends.  God wants us to ask questions and use our brains to learn more about Him and the world around us.
 
This is a great video exploring this topic.  I urge you to watch this together and explore some of the questions that you may have.  A fun activity for the family might be to brainstorm some of your biggest questions for God and write them down.  Here are some examples of questions that some 3rd graders asked of God.  Some of them will put a smile on your face.  Take a picture of some of your questions…I would love to see them.
 
I hope that you all have a great summer.  Take some time to ask some questions with your kids.   
 
God Bless You,
Liz
We will meet online again this Sunday.  Log on for a few minutes to say “hello” to some of your church family. The Zoom meeting begins at 10:45 am and ends at 11:15 am. 
If you need assistance logging into Zoom, please call Pastor Derek at the church office. He will practice with you anytime Monday-Thursday.

To Join the Zoom Meeting, click here: 
https://zoom.us/j/676788260?pwd=NmtuNFIzcGptd3FzdWp6OGNEbC93Zz09

Meeting ID: 676 788 260
Password: 077836
165 people in 48 households were served last week!!  Your orders from Sirna and Sons funded most of the produce and dairy that was included in each family bag.

As a reminder, if you are looking for another way to help, Sirna and Sons offers fresh meats, dairy, fruits, veggies, and more at competitive prices placed in your car touch-free.  Orders can be made weekly with no commitment.  And here’s the best part: 15% of all orders received go to the Aurora Community Relief Fund . You may click here to check out their website and make an online order.  Then all you have to do is pull up to the Leighton Elementary School parking lot on Thursdays 9 – 11:00 am and say your name – your groceries will be put into your car and you drive away!  You can order until 8:00 pm on Tuesdays for pick up the same week.  Any questions?  Call Liz Sutter at 216-570-6394.