Leading out of a Wellbeing space
Now is exactly the time to pause before leaping back in, writes Ruth Rice. Can the Church be the prophetic people of wellbeing?
As we begin to emerge from lockdown and churches start planning how to gather again without the singing, with social distancing and the need to take a register, it is a puzzling and challenging time for church leaders everywhere.
It has reminded me of a different and challenging time in my own life when I found myself leading local church not post lockdown, but post breakdown. The challenge to lead healthily and well, to be honest and authentic and lead from my own story was at the heart of the charity that formed on the back of our experiments. Renew Wellbeing exists to help any church anywhere set up a space where it’s ok not to be ok. A quiet shared space with hobbies for wellbeing, the kettle on and a welcome for all. But at the heart of this simple shared front room are rhythms of prayer that the church and community can learn together. Where all who come can choose to opt in to the beautiful presence of the God of wellbeing.
We needed these sort of spaces before COVID19 in our communities, with one on four folk with mental and emotional health challenges …so we will really need them now.
But how will such places compete with the many other programmes and tasks of the local church that leaders are desperately trying to get started again? How is it possible to expect busy leaders to sit and be present when there is so much to do? Now we are expecting churches to occupy the online spaces with shiny Zoom content AND reopen their buildings, how will there be time for quiet prayer rhythms and a bit of hobby time spent alongside others?
I suggest to you that now is exactly the time to pause before leaping back in. Many of us have slowed down. Many more in our communities have admitted to praying, some of us have found hobbies we never knew could bring us peace … we have spent more time just chatting with neighbours and being present in our own lives.
I suggest it is time for the church to build on this. To be the prophetic people of wellbeing:
prepared to GIVE their time,
to CONNECT properly,
to LEARN together,
to TAKE NOTICE of the beauty of Christ in the gift of the other,
and only then to GET ACTIVE in serving… to live out lives of wellbeing in spaces anyone can access.
The verbs in capitals in the are in fact the five ways to wellbeing that a Government survey found so many people were craving for their wellbeing. These are the very things we as church are called to as kingdom people.
But the cost of being church in a different way is in us being vulnerable, slowing down, being present, giving our time, giving up our success driven culture, and being devoted to prayer.
We at Renew Wellbeing are offering free training at this time for any church wanting to ask how they can affect the wellbeing of their communities, and maybe live that out in a simpler space as they emerge from lockdown. The sort of space that can exist alongside the gatherings and meetings as and when we can reintroduce them.
This is for any church leaders asking how to lead well and stay well. It can be as few as two hosts, two hours a week or as much as you can show up. We have seen more than 50 centres open in the last three years and have gathered the same amount of churches again during lockdown interested in setting up a space.
God is renewing wellbeing. The local church is still His best plan. A picture I had at the start of this venture all those years ago has been developing in these months of lockdown. The original picture was of a battlefield where groups were setting up picnic rugs in the midst of the battle, and people were getting up off the battle floor and joining the picnic. The baskets were open and being filled from heaven. The whole battlefield was being transformed into a picnic site. These picnic rugs are our renew spaces: safe places to belong in the battlefield of despair and anxiety.
But this picture has developed during lockdown.
In this new image where the picnic rugs have been, the places of presence and belonging, the soil is now rich and ready for planting up and some of the picnic rugs give way to fruitful allotments. The seeds represent hope and peace and comfort and wellbeing that multiplies in the soil it is planted in. Mark 4: 26-29 God gives the increase. He is growing hope. Harvest is coming.
But I realise now that this is not a weekend hobby allotment but a DIG FOR VICTORY campaign. The battle is still fierce and a tsunami of mental ill health is being forecast as people struggle with fear, anxiety, deferred grief and job insecurity.
To see wellbeing, shalom and renewal in our communities, we must start with our own lives and choices and lead from our own habits.
Where will you lead from? How will you share wellbeing in habits and prayer rhythms with your community ?
Please consider slowing down, showing up and praying in a renew space to see the battlefield of despair retransformed into picnic sites and allotments of belonging and life.
Do check out our free resources on www.renewwellbeing.org.uk. Join a webinar. Help yourself to training session to do with your team. Meet with us on zoom to make a plan. Have a go at leading from a wellbeing space .
If you don’t like it stop. But please don’t rush back to whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be without thinking through how you will sustain wellbeing for yourself at least .
Ruth Rice set up renew37 whilst leading New Life Baptist Church, and now works full time for Renew Wellbeing
Image | Ricardo Gomez Angel | Unsplash
Ruth’s ebook 5 Ways to Inner Wellbeing is available on Amazon by Authentic media.
The book Slow down, show up and pray with the story of Renew Wellbeing and the training resources included, is out later in the year.