Our patterns of life have been changed this spring—school cancelled, work altered, agendas changed and events postponed. Our lives were driven by important pursuits like winning a championship, walking down an aisle or donning a cap and gown. Our days were consumed by less important things like weekend trips or little league games.

The pattern of church life has been changed this spring. Weekly schedules came to a sudden stop. Gatherings long taken for granted were taken away, and sacred cows have been put out to pasture. Routines, rituals and regular activities no longer fill our spring days.

We now have more time at home, more time with family, more time to be quiet and more time to talk with friends on the phone or neighbors over the fence.

What is the nature of this season of change? How should we experience it? I hope we will have wisdom to embrace this interruption of our lives as a pruning, not just a pause. Let me explain.

To pause is to take a break; a temporary rest. After the pause, we pick up right where we left off. We push the pause button to stop, then push the same button to keep right on going. When we “re-open,” will we pick up right where we left off? Is this merely a pause or is it a pruning?

To prune is to cut away what is unproductive, unnecessary and undesirable. The cut can be painful. We tend to resist the cutting. Yet now, by God’s grace, the pruning has come. Think of all the “stuff” that has been cut out of your schedule. Make a list of all the “stuff” that has been cut away from the life of your church. Things we would never give up, never let go, never stop—they have ceased.

God help us to resist our urge to push the “un-pause” button!

Wisdom would make “re-opening” a process, not an event. Take your time. Start with the most essential, the most productive. Try not to reattach those dead, dry branches. Maintain the margins.

Some of what was cut from your life should stay cut. Some of what has been cut from your church should stay cut. If this spring was merely a pause, all we got out of it was a little rest. If we embrace this cutting as a pruning, the result could be an increase of productivity that we have not seen in a generation or two. Cutting the undesirable, unnecessary and unproductive will leave room and energy for a new season of Kingdom productivity. Maybe we can travel a little lighter as we advance the Gospel together.