Interesting concept here: a depressed church.
Being too fatigued to be the church is a challenge. When a congregation seems to be falling behind its most often assumed that what it needs is change. Perhaps, at some level change is needed, but the pursuit of change runs the ever-present risk of producing depression. If we fail to keep up, finding ourselves falling behind, depression will meet us. This fashions in us the very opposite disposition than what is needed to meet the challenges brought by changes in our culture.
For church consultants and denominational leaders to call congregations to change is to risk something significant. It opens them to communal depression, producing the opposite of what they need to meet their challenge: despondency. Church consultants risk moving the congregation into a vicious cycle that is too often misunderstood as a straight line. The consultant is often called in when a congregation has either fallen behind or is too obdurate to meet the challenges of a changing world. The consultant leads the congregation in a process of speeding up, offering new models to speed them up to meet change. And then leaves, moving on to another congregation needing change. That feels like a straight line.
- Point A: the church is stuck.
Point B: give it the strategies to get unstuck.
Point C: so that it can meet the speed of change.
Point D: move on (and return periodically to tweak the strategies, asking the congregation to speed up further, then move on again).
But once the congregation is up to speed, it needs to forever maintain that speed, and also continually increase the speed year after year.