May 22, 2014
My conversation with the "Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church" reminded me of this beautiful quote from Tim Brown's "Change by Design"
It’s no accident that designers in recent years have been following the emerging science of biomimicry—the idea that nature, with its 4.5 billion-year learning curve, may have something to teach us about things such as nontoxic adhesives, minimal structures, efficient thermal insulation, or aerodynamic streamlining. The bewildering variety at work in a healthy ecosystem is nothing but an exercise in sustained experimentation—try something new, and see what sticks. It may well be that we need to begin mimicking nature not just at the molecular level but at the systemic level of companies and organizations. An excess of experimental zeal would be risky—companies do not enjoy the luxurious time frame of biological systems and their leaders would be remiss if they chose not to exercise what might be called—with apologies to Darwin—“intelligent design.” What is called for is a judicious blend of bottom-up experimentation and guidance from above.
'Love that "guidance from above" part!
In my own life, I have experimented with planting a church by starting with home groups and starting a campus ministry by choreographing flash mob celebrations of local compassion and gathering clergy, first by e-mail chat and then by teleconference and then Skyping and then videoconferencing and now combining synchronous and asynchronous learning for leaders in three denominations. I hope to continue this "sustained experimentation" for years to come. Do you want to know what makes this mix of failures and successes worth it to me?
It is the realization that, as Margaret Wheatley claims, "Whatever the problem, community is the answer." I believe that God's dreams for the cosmos are most accessible to us in communities that are intentional about the practices that sustain these experiments. That belief compels me - it wakes me up in the night!
So here is a "hat's off" to all of you out there on the fringes ... offering us that judicious blend of "bottom-up experimentation" and "guidance from Above.” You are the sherpas guiding us through the evolutionary knotholes that our churches face! I honor you!