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September 27, 2005

Comments

robbie

kester this is right right on. Allowing the congregation to offer their gifts and talents and input to the path of the church on it's journey is a great way to get more people to appreciate the work of the church. So often we see fighting gossiping and back stabbing within the body. I think this may stem in part from the top down structure of church hierarchy. But more influence from the bottom up may curb the infighting, and who knows, end the sunday sermon in ritual form.

Ben

I agree that this will be a long process. People come to church ready to receive, ready to have someone do something to them. They rarely come ready to participate and contribute gifts (again, mostly because leaders have instilled this for years). I had some interesting experiences trying to design several overtly participatory worship environments lately, running into the "stupefied" mindset you talk about: people resisted the idea of participating at first, partly because they felt they didn't really have as much to offer as the "official" preacher or worship leader, and partly because it's very comfortable to simply come to a meeting where nothing is expected of you. It's been an interesting journey so far, definitely uphill, but worth it.

Colin Darling

There is also a Japanese idea called Aikido that may be useful in Church on the Move.

Quite often people resist change or try to oppose it. Morgan points out (loose render) in his chapter 'Flux and Transformation' in "Image of Organization", 1998 that as soon as you operate forcefully in a human system (roughly) in equilibrium you call forth resistance at the point at which you are pushing. 'Both parties' become defined by the struggle over the point of contention. Rather than the change concept happening or being propagated a concept is fixed that centres on the point of contention.

So, for instance, the interest in the Church ceases to be a radically transformed lifestyle lived in the Spirit but rather it becomes centred on whether or not someone speaks in tongues. You can write similar stories for other issues in wider Church.

Aikido suggests that one allow a force applied against you to 'come towards you' until it has nearly fully exhauted itself. (Turn the other Cheek) The idea is that you move out of the way and use the residual force to redirect the opposing action in whatever way suits your purpose. ( Transform the conversation.)
This story is told better by Peter Lang and by W.B. Pearce and Margaret Pearce (19??)

An example given in Morgan's book is of change in a major hospital/ medical care network with huge vested interests in a large set of buildings, many consultants and yet not succeeding in conveying medical services to the poorest people who do not like coming into the big system hospital.

The suggestion it to set up a small clinic - so small as to be not threatening to the great system. And to grow it so slowly that no-one bothers until it has so clearly made a case for its own existence that it can't be closed down. Eventually it may be that practices in the small clinic can be transfered into the large system hospital.
Or maybe like the Low Cost Clinic in Vellore South India it will just find it fits a niche outside the main system.

Is the issue for church is how to multiply the small experiments in emerging church out from the 'groovy fringe'? Is there a question of how to build confidence in starting the transition? People know they will get opposition from existing church and to begin that multiplication they know they need to know how to deal (maybe Aikido fashion) with the opposition they will get.

In the playground no matter how good your game everyone will go and watch the fight in the other corner.

You wrote " Even when permission was given, it seemed that people were so long stupified that they were unable to engage... "

I think people know that they lack skills around managing this change in themselves and their church environment.

The next step is not one of continuing to offer models of the different - many have seen that, bought the idea and want to move on. But how. We need some technology of how, some lego play around starting, some practice in dealing with the aggro in an aikido way, or some encouragement to do it so small that opposition does not crystallise until you know how to deal with it.

As for me I am not a member of the groovy or cool, I am not stall or skinny, and I reckon I am outside the conversations that 'count' - and I don't think I've ever been published. I wear boring black jeans and grey polo shirts, my hair is grey and I listen to Five Live Sports radio.

But I am co-starting a small un-group ambiguously alongside church because I met someone who was 'dying' in her church and I suggested she needed a good dose of conversation and argument where she could disagree with the party line and still be OK. If this group encounters resistance I hope we will be able to deal with it and meet differently but either way I hope we will just get ourselves dreaming about something better. Its a small start.

The other day in a pub I met an unhappy builder totally fed up with his life and wife. After a few exchanged comments across the almost empty bar room about how the food had run out and I would be lucky to get served he said, "I reckon when you meet a new person you have something to hear from that person and something to say to them. I'm about to emigrate to Tasmania to become fly fishing instructor . . . . . . and so on for half an hour or so. What do you have to say to me . . ."

How refreshing was that!

Kester

"As for me I am not a member of the groovy or cool, I am not stall or skinny, and I reckon I am outside the conversations that 'count' - and I don't think I've ever been published. I wear boring black jeans and grey polo shirts, my hair is grey and I listen to Five Live Sports radio.


But I am co-starting a small un-group ambiguously alongside church..."

Don't go changing. I think this forms part of my passion: the church has lost the emphasis on the cellular level, and is too interested in the corporate. When it is at this level that Kaizen suggests real change will come.

I love the Aikido principle as you've outlined it. Profound. Need to mull ;-)

Thanks.

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