Ted Vail, D.I.S.

What if we were to experience global climate change that caused sea levels to significantly rise or fall? I’m not commenting on the politics or cause, just imagining the implications. Skipper skills, for example, would still be valid, but some navigational charts would be nearly obsolete.

Imagine what it might mean for farmers: drought where there was once rain, and heavy rains in once arid places. Farming skills would remain valid, but many of the crops and techniques would need to be adjusted. My point is that the basics and core disciplines often remain, but the methods and maps must change.

I submit to you that we are in a season of spiritual climate change. These seasons don’t happen very often; however, we can take heart, as the gospel has often flourished during times like these.

Simply put: The core message of the gospel and our core skills remain the same, but the methods and style of ministry may need to change. These are often deeply ingrained, but I’ve watched everyone from preschoolers to ForeRunners figure out Zoom calls in the past year, so I know that anyone can adjust and adapt!

Storm vs. climate change

When we experience a storm, we “ride it out” to get back to normal; but in a climate change scenario, we must innovate and discover a new way forward. This is not a storm. The old normal is no longer available to us.

Church and missions history tells stories of huge shifts like what we are undergoing now. For example, we’ve seen ministry transferred into the hands of laymen/women. We’ve seen the gospel translated into mother tongues and locally contextualized, planting streams in previously arid “spiritual deserts.”

The core message of the gospel and our core skills remain the same, but the methods and style of ministry may need to change.

Chart revisions. This past year has been unprecedented. While adopting climate change leadership won’t be easy, let’s jump in and start adapting. Following are some chart revisions to consider as we move forward.

We’re moving from competitive to collaborative. We really are on the same team in the body of Christ and will only thrive by joining together. We’re seeing individualistically wired cultures shifting to group-oriented ones and vice versa. How people even take in the gospel and are discipled is changing, even in the U.S. This is a seismic global shift.

Proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. In Acts 1:1, Luke mentioned “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (NIV). People do need to hear the Good News, but they’ll often need to see it, as well. We not only preach the cross and the resurrection; we have the demonstration of the Spirit in power and compassion.

Innovation. Some of the old navigational charts might not serve as well, but your Bible does, and you can be led by the Holy Spirit. We have one another, and together as a global movement we can make nation-changing disciples. Read Matthew 13:52 with fresh eyes. What will you bring out of your treasure? What innovation? What creativity? What ancient path or truth that we’ve forsaken long ago needs to be dusted off and restored?

As Foursquare leaders and missionaries, I’m glad we are in this together! Let me know what you’re discovering—we’d love to know what the Holy Spirit is doing in and through you in this season of change.

Has your church done something new this past year to take the gospel to people in new ways? Tell Ted about it! Email comm@foursquare.org.

is senior director of global mission for The Foursquare Church.
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