Thursday, May 12, 2005

How to NOT Change the World

When I run out of insight, it's nice to know I can always borrow from someone else's blog! Sam Rima is a professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul. He is a nationally known expert in the area of leadership. Below I've quoted him from his blog today. He's commenting here on a speech given last night by Erwin McManus.

One of the comments [McManus] made that truly ressonates with me was, "If you really want to change the world, the last place you would want to be is in the majority of American churches." Our focus in the church has been trying to discover just the right system or formula to bring the organization that we hope will make us effective. We see the church in very mechanistic terms. In fact, we have organized the life and fluidity out of the church. The problem, as Erwin articulated it, is that our churches are TOO organized! We need to seek ways to create a little more chaos and disorganization. We have procedures and policies for absolutely everything! That is certainly true at FBC [that's Sam's church] ... we have organized the life out of the church!

Erwin also made the tongue-in-cheek (or maybe not!) comment that the most organized place on earth is a cemetary! Everyone is in their place; no one is causing problems; no chaos or confusion - just perfect order! His challenge was to consider:
(1) Whether our personal life and the life of our church are characterized by a faith that proves to the world God is truly alive. Are we taking risks for Him?
(2) Whether or not we are known by love - God's unconditional love. Do we and our church make people the highest value? Or are people simply seen as giving units, attendance figures, projects, or problems waiting to be solved? The essence of the church should be our love for one another and the world.
(3) Whether or not we are being a voice of hope to the world. Do we give people a sense of hope and encouragement to tackle the challenges and rapids of this life?

I appreciate what Dr. Rima said about mechanizing the church. I'm continually tempted to resort to a formula to bring the results I think we "need". But one thing that we've done "right" so far at Cedarbrook is we haven't let the cement set around anything. Nothing is set in stone. Everything is pretty fluid. It's that fluidity that keeps us walking in faith (and a bit of terror!) but it keeps things fresh and real. Thanks to Sam and Erwin McManus. (McManus is the pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles and an author of some great through provoking books).

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