Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Whole New Way

Some good stuff from a respected leader. Read and think grasshoppper.

"I think the reality is that we really do need to be asking people to look at doing ministry in a whole new way. To be sure, some are already approaching ministry with apostolic means...finding leaders who will own the mission and coaching them to effectiveness, but the majority of our ministry is still too staff-intensive at a grass roots level. That's what blows my mind about the whole church growth phenomenon world-wide. Growth is occurring in the lives of new believers and the entire movement without the influence of paid professionals at the grass roots level. And, management of those churches and movements is viewed completely differently because it's not programmatic in nature. It's organic. It's movement. No one is worried about all the intricacies of running programs. It's about life-change.

All of this leads to the danger of telling people that what we are talking about is basically what they've already been doing all along (but, just a little more). As long as these ideas about movements are basically viewed as adding more to their already complex ministry, then it's not very attractive. It's just too risky and tiring to try to do more. No, the paradigm needs to be radical enough and different enough that it busts open the window to do a whole lot more, but in a completely energizing and exciting and attractive way. If we hang onto ministry as we've know it with our suppositions that students can only grow if staff are involved, and that we've got to have a whole lot of management of things like weekly meetings going on, and that the students of our culture are just so messed-up that it's going to take a long, long, long time for them to be fruitful gospel people, and all of our current trappings, then we're really stuck. We're really pretty much all done. Draw a line in the sand and say, "This is good. Let's just be content with where we are."

I'm not saying we need to tell staff that they're bad people that everything they've been doing is wrong. Not at all! But we do need to paint a compelling picture of the future! I fear that if we do not, then God will raise up someone else to do it. We will continue in a nice successful ministry, but we will miss the opportunity to touch the future.

The children of Israel slogged along for many years really only partially taking the promised land. Sure, they were home, but the reality is that it wasn't very safe, or fun. They were constantly being attacked by all kinds of enemies still living in the land. Varying judges arose to spark regionalized victories, but everything was still very tenuous. Like Gideon, they were content to thresh a little wheat in the cellar for fear the Philistines would see them and take it. Even Gideon's victory was only short-lived and localized. But then, God raised-up a leader from being a shepherd (meaning being: least attractive job on the totem pole) from an inconsequential town and he spent his entire life (well, except for the parts where Saul was trying to kill him) leading the people to secure the whole land and God's glory in their midst. It was a bloody, ruthless sort of existence. It was a life of constant battle. Not at all a pretty, serene sort of picture. I imagine the epic movie David...more battles and blood than Lord of the Rings, but all of it real. David finished the job, and his son, Shaloam-man (Soloman) led in a period of unbelievable peace and prosperity.

In many ways it feels as if we are living in the time of those judges and we need to spark a new vision to secure the whole land. Samuel was sad to see the days of the judges come to an end. But it was time for change. It was time to secure the land. It was time to take the future! It was time to bring peace to the whole land! And David did it.

Okay, I'll quit waxing. I think you get the idea."