The Jubilee Solution to Your Church’s Rut

All systems tend to run out of steam. In physics, this law of thermodynamics is called “entropy.”  Happens in human systems too. In physics, all that’s required is some additional amount of energy to maintain the same output (“work”). But in human systems, renewing our enthusiasm and energy for something is a little more complicated. That’s where the “Leviticus 25 Hack” comes in….

Use the  “Leviticus 25 Hack” -the Levitical “7th Year of Radical Sabbatical,” to revitalize the process and design of your CE program. After all, it TOO is one of the commandments…

…it could be the solution to your church (and personal) rut.  

Leviticus 25:  Most people only remember the “Forgive debts every 7 years” part of Jubilee… which explains why almost nobody talks about it. Read Leviticus 25 at;&version=65;

There’s a 7th year Jubilee and a 50th. Both have a lot of GREAT IDEAS in them for your church.

In particular, I want to focus on THIS part of the Jubilee: setting the prisonsers free.

Corrie Ten Boom, the dutch evangelist and concentration camp survivor, tells the moving story of meeting her Nazi captor after the war. As he approached her to ask forgiveness, hate washed over her. Then in an unexpected moment, she decided to embrace him. She later wrote, “to forgive someone is to set a prisoner free, and to discover that the prisoner was YOU.”
Forgiving isn’t forgetting, it’s putting something behind you, it’s freeing yourself from the past. People and Churches need to do that. But Programs ALSO need to do that. One of the hardest things to do is to clear space in your brain and on the calendar for doing something new and different. It’s even harder is to get people to agree that something new and different should be done.


That’s where the Year of Jubilee comes in. It’s not a choice, it’s a commandment. It’s not a crazy idea, it’s a biblical concept related to Sabbath. “This day, this year we will do something completely different.” Last year you could do it this way, this year you can’t, you must do it differently. It’s a sabbatical. A 7th day or 7th year of saying “stop what’d you’ve been doing,” to clear your mind and calendar to imagine something different.


What would next year’s Sunday morning program, evening fellowship, mission program, committee meetings look like if you simply said “next year, you are not allowed to do anything the same.” In one church which declared a year of jubilee, it meant a complete makeover to their Sunday morning program. They set aside a successful children’s program, to invent a program that had elements of a breakfast and music, drama, and teaching in a large group setting and with small group break-outs. No, it wasn’t revolutionary in detail, but it was in scope. It wasn’t an “addition” or a “break” one week, it was a practice for the entire year. And it was brainstormed and led by a diverse and different set of leaders.


One of my goals in sparking that Jubilee planning in that church was to knock the crutches out from underneath their program, to let them tap their own creative thinking by giving them a blank slate.  What comes out of that kind of experience is probably more important than what went into it. In that one church, however, they didn’t push it far enough. In concept, the Jubilee was to extend to worship -to invite the congregation to learn some new things under the protection of understanding it as a biblical jubilee. that particular church didn’t get that far, but the groundwork was laid. A few prisoners set free are better than none!

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had a problem. The disciples were couped up safe and sound in their familiar upperroom. The Spirit blew the doors off that place, and kicked the disciples OUT of their comfort zone. Sabbath and Jubilee do the same thing. It rearranges where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with. It forces you to consider the foreigners on the outside of your program. It gives you the gift of speaking in a new language. And from there on in the church grew.

As I type this, I’ve got a Dan Rather Reports special on the tube. Brain scientists are talking about retraining stroke victims. The researcher has said such ‘retraining’ is good for “healthy” patients as well. “We’ve found that simply tieing a right-handed person’s right hand behind their back and having them go through their day with only their left hand, shows significant changes in the way the brain processes information throughout the day.

He’s basically saying that to set the prisoner free we occasionally have to bind up something else. Flash: According to neuro scientists Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks. A Year of Jubilee can be as Robert Frost once described “the road less travelled,” -a path less trodden that diverges in the wood, and whose end is obscured by the growth around it. You bend down to see where it leads, and can’t be sure. But it can make all the difference. Make next year a seventh year, a Year of Jubilee in your thinking, programming and practice. And pick your metaphor: Kick YOURSELF out of your comfort zone. Take a road less travelled. There’s a time to build up, and a time to tear down. A time to bind in order to be unbound.

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