A leadership principal I’ve adhered to for years, and tried to help others recognize is that “The pendulum almost always swings back”.
In organizations and in culture things change, futures are predicted, proclamations made, trends noticed etc. Oftentimes this results in a sudden pendulum swing toward the “new way”. Folks who want to make sure the change sticks, or anxious leaders afraid to be late to the new party, often respond aggressively to the swing. As a result new rules and policies are implemented, articles and books are written, and seminars are taught.
But in time….usually not a drastically long time…the pendulum swings back. Maybe not all the way back to the old ways, but back to what is a more accurate “new way” or “new normal”. The pendulum swing was a good thing because it ultimately helped things progress…but they almost never progress as far as the initial swing.
The best, most recent, youth ministry example of this is the issue of faith abandonment; or more specifically the cause of faith abandonment. Suddenly the pendulum swung (or is it swang?) and youth ministry was to blame for most of the church’s problems. Everything we had ever believed about youth ministry was being questioned at best, or under attack at worst. We were doing it all wrong….or the fact that we were doing it so well was actually doing it wrong because it created a shallow, undeveloped faith in students. And there was some truth in all of that; SOME truth.
But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen that the pendulum has already begun to swing back to the middle…not all the way back to the old ways, but back to what is a more accurate “new normal”.
Below are just a couple of recent examples of the pendulum swinging back:
I’m glad we had a pendulum swing because it forced us to take an honest look at this beautiful mess called youth ministry. I’m sad some folks jumped on board the pendulum too early, giving a black eye to something that I don’t feel deserved it. And I’m thrilled that the pendulum is beginning to swing back to a new normal!