Understand Your Present Reality is the title of chapter two. How well do you as a leader in your church understand your present reality? One of the reasons I enjoy living and ministering in Alaska is that people are real. You don't see a lot of posturing, posing, and pretending. My next question is: do we look at our local churches and communities through such a realistic lens? Or because we don't want a negative reality to deflate our hopes for the future, do we ever try to paint our reality in a new light? Do we gloss over the hard realities because we don't want to face them?
This chapter is about taking what we can learn from others and mixing them in with our local contexts. Upon arriving at a new church Bob Farr "wanted to know more about that church and community than they themselves knew." p. 26. He cites three kinds of data leaders need to know. 1. Demographic statistics. 2. Historical information. 3. Stories (what he calls "walk-around information"). Welcoming a new pastor is a good time for a church to engage in this activity. Let us remember that we need to find ways to share this data with the new people who come to our churches. It's not just the pastor's job to learn a church's context.
The last point is about survival vs. vitality mode. "This is where most mainline churches find themselves today: survival mode. This turns us inward and leads to protectionism. It also most often separates us from the vitality that makes us a church, which is our connection with the mission field." p. 28.
I do hope you will get Bob's book and study it together.