Ever Heard of Liminality?

By Jim Voigt

Last week I spent several days in online lectures and discussions as a part of a new program I am in on non-profit and church leadership. One of the words that kept popping up in discussions was one I had never heard of before: “liminality”. I had to look it up. The words liminal and liminality are both derived from the Latin limen, meaning a threshold; that is, the bottom part of a doorway that must be crossed when entering a building. In Latin, limen referred to the stone placed on the threshold of a door that physically had to be mounted to cross from one space into another.

Right now, we are experiencing the greatest liminal season any of us have ever experienced. It is for us the threshold space or doorway between two buildings. Because of the Coronavirus, we stand at the threshold of the end of one era and the beginning of another. All of us are completely unaware of where we are going from here. Many of the things we used to plan for in the same ways every year we can no longer plan for. Liminal seasons are opportunities to reassess what your goals and values are in life. It’s an opportunity for organizations to do the same around mission and purpose. Because of the continued fear of the Coronavirus, many people will not interact with the church the same way they used to. So it’s up to the church to find new ways to help people be disciples of Jesus Christ and enter into a Christian community.

This, of course, begins with you. Have you placed a “time out” on your faith life? If you have, you aren’t alone. Many people have and for good reason. Perhaps, during this liminal time, you can wait it out another 6 months and we will have more answers then. Maybe there will be a vaccine that will eradicate the Coronavirus and everything will be good to go again. But perhaps this time is an opportunity to consider more deeply what your goals for yourself are in relationship to God and other people. Has there ever been a greater opportunity to do something new and outside the box of what has always been expected of you then right now? Though there are many hardships and fears, this may be the best time to take advantage of this liminal season to do something new because of your faith. Let me know if I can pray with you about what God lays on your heart. Aren’t these exciting times we are living in . . . and terrifying, all at the same time?