Church Innovations’ Partners Post

March 26, 2010

Extremism Gone Wild

Why have I thought that congresspeople would be more level-headed than the rest of us? To those of you who have always known they’re not, good for you – you are more realistic than I have been.  These past couple of weeks have made me wonder what wounds are beneath all of the intensity we are hearing and seeing. What sense of being themselves threatened is causing people to threaten one another?  What deep fears are being felt and even exploited during the health care battles?

Noting how the media pick up the sensational bits and magnify them so effectively for the rest of us, I was remembering the first section of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the prologue about the mirror that the devil made that magnified any speck of wrong so that the speck overpowered all the goodness that might be present alongside it.  Do you remember that story? The mirror was taken up toward the heavens and, in the story, all the goodness of Heaven finally overpowered the mirror and broke it into thousands of shards and even mirror dust. But instead of eliminating the mirror’s effect, the explosion resulted in the shards and dust falling to Earth and landing in some people’s eyes, preventing their seeing the good right before them and concentrating on the wrongs, the ills, the woes.

It seems to me we are beset by such evil shards and dust these days.  Andersen’s story had sacrificial love overcoming the ill effects, of course – true friendship and long-suffering quest cured the evil. What do you think? What sort of long-suffering quest of love will overcome our current threatening condition?     peace to your house.  Pat

 

March 10, 2010

Extremism, Lead Time, and Gifts

Is it my imagination or do people’s reactions these days tend to go to extremes? Do we label people as extremists too readily? Do we generalize too quickly? Why is this happening?

 

When there is pain and anxiety in the system, and especially a perceived lack of time, we often get reaction, reactionary-ism, even. I don’t know what systems you are a part of, but I am in several who are feeling pain and anxiety, and who seem to be under time pressure. So it is no wonder that I feel reactive and see that reactionary-ism embodied in some of the folks around me. What I’m interested in is this: who’s NOT being reactive? Who seems to be being PROACTIVE, thinking AHEAD OF THE CURVE? Finding that sort of person and learning from that sort of person is what I want to do.

 

Leadership is in large part about LEAD TIME.

 

As Christians, we have all the time in the world. Eternal life. Our Triune God created mountains and rivers and oceans and planets, for heaven’s sake.  There is time for everything. And each of us is endowed by that same Creator with certain particular gifts, to be used for the good of the neighbor.

 

Leadership is also about knowing your place; that is, knowing what gifts you have that are called for to free others into the relationship we share with God. If my gift is creative engineering, for example, how am I to listen, learn where that gift is called for, and use it for the benefit of others’ relationship with God?

 

Just thinking about that, I feel less anxious and reactive. I feel more purposeful. I am surely more alert and even, possibly, slightly less bothered by extremism.

March 3, 2010

A simple story of pushing through pain

 

I know one congregation that is experiencing painful division.  

 

Divisions can happen over decisions of a greater church body, over planning by a local church council, or even over disagreements between particular staff members, paid or unpaid.

 

This division is a painful one, such that the parties have a hard time even hearing one another.  The pain is real.  And yet, they keep coming together, using our model for spiritual discernment (Church Innovations’ Box and Triangle one that you know so well), and they keep listening to God and to one another, pushing through the pain.

 

And what has happened?

 

They have discovered that their local church’s mission is bigger than their differences, and they have pledged their energies toward that shared mission which hasn’t gone away just because they are divided.  They are willing to work with those they disagree deeply with in order to co-create with God a trustworthy world.

 

Do you know other stories like this one?

 

Peace. Pat

March 1, 2010

Why would we sacrifice for one another?

Money. Time. Effort. Caring.  They all cost us.  Plenty.

 

What would make us give any of them up for one another?

Why would we work to benefit somebody else?

 

OK, look at the Haiti efforts – quick and huge and dramatic.  People without jobs are donating time and money to people who’ve lost everything, people whom they’ll never ever meet to be thanked.

 

And why?

A.   It just seems like the right thing to do.

B.   I have compassion on people who’ve lost everything.

C.   If it were me, I’d hope folks would help.

D.   I feel guilty when I see the pictures.

E.   My team/group/coworkers started a fund.

F.    Other reasons

 

Now what about a tough decision that has to be made in your congregation – related to staffing, budget shortfalls, a quarrel among members, worship styles…

 

What would make us give up money, time, effort, caring to help find a way forward for our local church?

 

And what would make us give those things up so that the solution would work to benefit somebody else?

 

Peace. Pat

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