As I sit here and take some time to write with you all today, I am struck by the fact that my head keeps feeling like its spinning round and round. No, I am not feeling dizzy. But, I am feeling like my world is in the process of becoming really “topsy-turvey.” This isn’t a new experience for me, and probably its a normal part of the life and fields my wife and I have felt called into. I have written before about the idea of being in perpetual discernment, so there is that too.
In the midst of the craziness, I have come to the following conclusions:
I love people who are imaginative, willing to experiment and bend over backwards to make things work. I have little patience for people, institutions or organizations who put processes ahead of people.
Maybe it’s the fact that I believe in the gospel to such a deep extent. Maybe its because I also believe in the business ethics and philosophies of Peter Drucker. Maybe its because I believe that the future of ministry will rely heavily on leaders who are willing to try new things and innovate, be intentional listeners, and courageous members of their communities willing to ask and wonder about “What might God be up to here?”
Lately, I have had a number of amazing experiences where these ideas have been lived out and experienced. I have witnessed them in the work I am currently doing in a congregational setting, as well is in conversations with a few other congregations and synods. I have experienced the desire and importance of innovation in gathering and thinking with other religious leadership minds at the Academy of Religious Leadership. I have wondered and learned with other stewardship thinkers and leaders at the North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy. For that alone, you might think my head is spinning.
But, at the same time, I have also felt like I have been running into a wall of sorts. It’s not an insurmountable wall, but I feel like this innovation and desire to seriously be a servant and leader who views innovation and entrepreneurship as essential has been met suspiciously by some people.
I am not writing today to complain. I am not even writing to point out the inconsistencies I have seen among facets of the church and its many institutions that I am part of. I am writing today to simply say, my head is spinning. I have so many ideas, questions and observations. I just hope (and trust) that there are a whole lot more dreamers and innovators like I think there are, then scarcity minded barriers to creating opportunities to experiment. I hope that in the midst of these times of discernment, that I am able to hold on to the trust that God’s abundant love is central.
If I have learned one thing from this journey and from my studies in innovation, the church needs to learn how to “fail faster.” In order to learn this though, congregations and church related institutions have to take experimentation and its importance seriously. That will mean trying new things as it relates to families in seminaries and on internship or first calls (like Allison and I will soon be experiencing). That will mean continuing to imagine what it means to be a “minister” or “associate in ministry” type leader of the church. Honestly, it will also mean at times, the importance of needing to reclaim terms such as “stewardship,” but also words so central, but without one shared understanding, like “the church.” What does it mean to be the church today? What did it mean 500 years ago? How about 50 years ago? What might it mean 5 years from now? How about 50?
What might these answers mean for my work and ministry and future work and ministry? What might it mean for my wife Allison’s work and ministry, and our shared work and ministry together?
Are you willing to imagine about these questions with me? Are you excited about them? Or, do these questions make you anxious, and leave you hoping for some clarity? No matter how you answered these last few questions, welcome to my head spinning world of late.
Thank goodness that the church, ministry and leadership (as I understand it) are grounded in the promises of the gospel. That they recognize that these roles, responsibilities and opportunities are entrusted to us, and that the people we lead and serve with are “entrusted to our care.” When I remember the grounding of the Good News, even though the world and all these questions may well circle, I can still find it possible to breathe, center and know that it is going to be okay. I am not alone, we are not alone. That’s something I say a hearty “Thanks Be to God” for.
Image Credit: Merry Go Round