Seems hard to believe, like it’s been forever but also like it was only a year or two ago at most. Yet six years ago today was my first post here at Subversive Influence. It’s not the six years of blogging that seems so unbelievable (particularly given my lack of consistency over the past year), but the events that precipitated it and the changes in our lives since that time. It was just over six years ago when the pastor I’d been working with for ten years on a in the church I’d been part of for sixteen showed up on my doorstep shortly after I’d gotten home from church one Sunday morning and gotten my kids some lunch. I stepped out onto my driveway to speak with him while he had his wife and kids sitting in the van, and he proceeded to blow a gasket, not only yelling at me and telling me my contributions were no longer welcome, but throwing some of my own vulnerabilities in my face and asking how I dared critique anything they were doing when they were serving? I’d say it was the beginning of the end, except the beginning had really come some years before that, creeping up on us unawares. Instead, this was the proverbial straw that did the camel in.
Seems a little odd to be writing a prologue after all this time, doesn’t it? Well, there’s a back-story, as may be inferred by those who may have noticed posts at other blogs with this same title. I’ve written a lot about the meaning of missional, its distinctives, and what it means to be missional — besides innumerable casual mentions on this blog. I finally drafted a missional series index that lists the posts I did during my major series (2007) defining the concepts inherent in the term as well as the nine-post series I did (2008) summarizing the missional synchroblog when more than 50 bloggers participated in hashing out what it means to be missional. With a couple of other miscellaneous posts thrown in, this is a total of 25 posts just from me. That’s a lot of words, and some may wonder why I’m doing this once again. No, it’s not because I skipped it last year and am overdue, but it’s for two major reasons.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.
I love the TED site and the many Talks thereon. (I’d love to attend the conference someday.) Today I gave a listen to Barry Schwartz‘ talk titled “The real crisis? We stopped being wise.” I’m all about wisdom. Not that I necessarily have any, I just know how important it is, and how difficult it is to attain. I enjoy the book of Proverbs for this reason as well, in the hope that I might glean something to help my pursuit of wisdom. That could be why I enjoyed this talk… or it could be because I’ve never been much for rules and incentives, which Schwartz also tackles, suggesting that they can tend to work against the cultivation of wisdom. Considering the workings of legalism in institutional/hierarchical structures, I’d have to say that he’s onto something.
Here’s a sampling:
A few weeks ago I asked, “Where are the Doors to the Church?” There were several good points raised in the comments following, and I wanted to respond at the time… but time got the better of me. I wanted to resurrect the metaphor once more, as some of the comments had me thinking about it a little further.
As we describe it, the path that most people take into the “house” of faith is not a door per se, at least not one that people simply walk up to and fling open, as it were. People are led in, or let in through relationships. This is the way it should be, and the more I thought about the scenario, the more I came back to a passage in John 10:
Just when you think the conversation might go away quietly, Bill Kinnon sticks his nose into it. But then again, he can have that way of hitting it spot-on in his commentary. Like this time. So in this running dialogue, I was going to title my post Maynard on Kinnon on Keller on Fitch on Kimball — because that’s the rough outline of the conversational thread — but then just the title of the post would be too hard to follow. As it happens, Tim Keller has responded to David Fitch’s response to what it sounded like Dan Kimball was saying on the Out of Ur blog. Keller outlines some of his experience in small and large churches, then summarizes,
Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,
Senator Bill Bradley defines a movement as having three elements:
- A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build
- A connection between and among the leader and the tribe
- Something to do–the fewer limits, the better
Too often organizations fail to do anything but the third.
Tribal leaders are able to envision a future and create a narrative to live into, by which others can one day arrive at the imagined future — or at least come nearer to it. As they pass on that narrative, others, perhaps their children, come even nearer. Narratives are important… we realize too little how much they already shape us. The fact is, most of us don’t even realize that we live according to an existing narrative.