Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keen Foresight

I'm nearing the end of reading Leonard Sweet's 1999 book "SoulTsunami." Besides my being a slow reader, I like to fully grasp the insight of LS. He is a contemplative genius gifted with ability to provoke needed ecclesiastical application of essential biblical mandates. His word-smithing is very creative and often times entertaining.

In his chapter "Get Deidolized,"  he lays out his ideas about future paradigms in the area of "human resources." I immediately resonated with his challenge, as I have struggled with the corporate mind-set applied to the "organic" Body of Christ. "Pastoral Search Committees" and staff "Job Descriptions" have long-been life-suckers for me, personally, as rigid compartmentalism stagnates the Kingdom yeast-like character of undetectable expansion. I don't know how many times I became discouraged when I was going about a task of ministry with flowing giftedness and a high degree of motivation, and informed that "This is not your job - This  is your job."

His description of what needs to take place (from his perspective 11 years ago) is actually a pretty accurate delineation of the current DNA of Java Journey. It is such a contrast with life-giving essence to be part of "web", rather than being a "staff member." That's why I highly value his distinction between "structure" and "system."

Fit Together ~ Ministry needs to be contextually determined. It is no longer enough to offer programs that people can "fit in." People want to fit together. "Fit in" was the mantra of the command-and-control structures of the Industrial Age. "Fit Together" is the mantra of the decentralized, out-of-control systems of the postmodern era. The pigeonholing of people is at an end. Part of soccer's surge of popularity among the Net-Gens is precisely this: Everybody is trained in all positions, and everybody is playing almost all the time.

Postmodern systems staff the process, not the position. That's why "job descriptions" need to be blurred or replaced by "spirit descriptions." Job descriptions fit you into someone else's categorical cubbyhole, then post "No Trespassing" signs all around the hole warning you to stay in and others to stay out."

In indigenous ministries to postmoderns, "spirit descriptions" will be so basic to the body of Christ that people will be hired for ministry solely on the basis of their spiritual energies. "I have no idea how we are going to use you, Minister of I-Don't-Know-What?" Come join the Church of God-Knows-What.

There are two mechanisms of "fitting together": teams and webs. Teams are project-oriented, goal-driven, and mostly short-lived. Webs evolve slowly and are based in relationships and connections that have little hierarchy and constantly shifting centers of power. The church must learn how to fit people together into teams and webs. But teaming entails all sorts of new muscles, new spirits, new skills, new thinking. Who has trained us how to "think together"? It's a whole new kind of thinking, this team thinking.
Java Journey has evolved and is evolving with a deliberate pace. There is little hierarchy and leadership does shift. There are many who still cringe at this reality, but it is working. The authenticity and full expression of giftedness creates a powerful untapped and unknown drive most of us have not experienced in previous "ministry" contexts.

So now, - when people ask us what "church" we are part of (and they often do), my new answer will be "The Church of God-Knows-What."

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