An Alternate Ending and an Alternate Reality
Leaders in the midst of the Perfect Storm will be those who, in the words of Walter Bruggemann, “nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”
In other words they will reimagine the world.
For those who choose to run – the flight-responders – effective leaders will cause them to void their bowels, to tell them the storm is coming and that survival in the hills means survival accompanied only by the bare necessities. In real-life terms this means leaders will push congregations and constituents to think more missionally and less about traditions while still pastoring these saints through a painful transition from the safety of calmer climates into a protective shell from the Perfect Storm. These are the people who believe that the Church in the West can be transitioned into the future, and – with some love, care, and strong leadership – be equipped to survive the Perfect Storm.
For those who choose to venture the storm – the fight-responders – effective leaders will drive others far out into sea and do what they can to provide them with instruments of guidance and navigation [along with whatever supplies and tactics can be gathered to increase the likelihood of a return voyage]. Practically, this means leaders who walk away from traditional models and methods and insist on innovative strategies for mission. These are the leaders who are led by their passion to be effective, rather than their passion for the preservation of the good things already in existence. These may be church planters and entrepreneurs who begin indigenous faith communities-at-sea, commercial enterprises as wings of the church, or undertake shared projects with state and secular organizations in an effort to focus on justice and charity. They will be the leaders who chant the mantra “don’t think church, think mission” and they will call it out in the midst of the fiercest gale force winds.
But, if these leaders lead us to survival, it will be the Stormborn leaders who lead us back to land. Just as we need leaders with courage now to take us away from harbor, we will undoubtedly need leaders to bring us home after the Storm, either back from the hills or back to harbor from the sea. Similar to their predecessors who adventurously pushed Christianity out with the bravery of missiology and cultural awareness, the Stormborn leaders will utilize similar skill sets to remind us that no storm lasts forever and that we must once again make a significant change in the way we live.
They will keep us from getting comfortable when the Storm feels like home, for they are the leaders who understand that there will be something that follows post-Christendom and that post-modernism isn’t a satisfying end in-and-of-itself. They understand that there will be a whole future, where we can appreciate the immensity of our technological power and steward it well, where Christianity is redeemed from the margins to regain its Voice as a credible witness for Jesus Christ, and where self-reference once again becomes participation in the divine.