We did it again. In almost all locations throughout North America we performed our annual spring ritual. We set our clocks forward one hour over this past weekend. We know to spring forward — and eight months from now to fall back.
We did not do it because the weather told us spring has arrived. Flowers have bloomed. Grass is growing. Birds are singing. We did it because the calendar told us it was time to do it. Real spring comes later. For many this has been a tough winter that is not yet over regardless of what daylight-saving time says.
How did the beginning of daylight-saving time work for you this year? Did you wake up refreshed on that first Sunday morning and ready to go to church an hour earlier? Did it stop snowing? Did the temperature rise 20 degrees or more never to return to the bitter cold days of this winter? Perhaps so. Perhaps not.
We must accept the initiation of daylight-saving time this and every year as a chronos event rather than a kairos moment. What is the difference?
A chronos event comes about because the calendar, and some transition or change event, requires or demands action. Chronologically, it is time to do something. Urgency is felt. We promised or committed to do something every so often, and that time has come again.
A kairos moment is the opportune moment when it feels good, right and loving to do something. Inspiration is present. The timing is spot-on regardless of what the calendar might say. The people who need to engage in the experience of the moment that might turn into a movement are ready.
It is great when a chronos event and a kairos moment happen simultaneously, but often this is not the case. Too often a transition or change is forced because the calendar says it is time. Too often when a few are ready to move forward the majority have no feeling about the goodness, rightness or loving nature of the timing. Ideally it is best if kairos is in the lead and chronos factors also align for the greatest possible impact.
Churches, chronos and kairos
Churches typically function based on a calendar. They are focused on chronos. The calendar says it is the right time to do something, so they do it. Special Sundays throughout the year are focused on a chronos approach. It is the right Sunday, so we do it.
The transition between pastors is a chronos event. Churches believe there are certain things they need to do between pastors so they address these issues. Intentional interim systems are organized around this chronos event.
Events that happen perennially such as budget preparation or at unplanned hinge points such as a staff change must be addressed. At the same time it must be acknowledged that unless there is also the “Aha!” of a kairos moment, they will not have the intended impact.
When a pastor or staff member transitions out of a church the first reaction of some people is to hire or call to the staff a new person as soon as possible. For others, it is to wait and see what God might be saying to the congregation at this crucial hinge point.
Is church transformation a chronos event or a kairos moment?
Churches who desire to transform and move forward to the next stage of their life and ministry must experience kairos moments. Chronos events are about transactional change. Kairos moments are about transformation.
Chronos events are left-brained and task-oriented. Kairos moments are right-brained and people-oriented. Chronos events focus on doing things right. Kairos moments focus on doing the right things.
Chronos events are often focused around human leaders seeking to push a church forward. They are about the agenda of some people and are not deeply owned. Kairos moments are about allowing God to pull a church forward. They are about God’s vision for a congregation by which many people are captivated.
Chronos events do not satisfy long-term. They are short-term fixes. They are often the agendas of leaders. Kairos moments are about long-term satisfaction. They point to long-term solutions. They are often the agenda of God for a church.
Church transformation is actually about both chronos and kairos. If churches are going to transform they must achieve kairos moments supported by chronos events.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB).