Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Come On, Man...

It’s that time of year where you might hear a pastoral chiding along these lines:

How can people stand for three hours in a stadium out in the freezing cold and scream their lungs over a sports team but not have the energy to worship God for thirty minutes without growing bored…?

The comparison of worship at church with going to a football game is a likely one, especially if you are a professional pastor. Who doesn’t wish for the same kind of enthusiasm that sports elicits? But if we’re going to go there, why not take it all the way out to the edge?

Current Pastor, if you want the screaming, raving fan reaction, why not start by selling or at least serving beer at your church. Trade the Starbucks French Roast pump pot with a keg of anything cold. Football fan doesn’t need anything good; just potent. Don’t be afraid of charging a premium price for the stuff. Consider it a means of funding bible school this year.

Allow for all kinds of language and behavior. Don’t get too upset over fist fights or swearing. These are all a part of the stadium experience. Tell your janitor to wait to mop the pee off the floor of the toilets until after the worship service. It will only get worse as time goes on. And if women choose to not want to wait in the long lines for the ladies room and end up in the men’s room, turn a blind eye; it’s not that big of deal. It happens all the time at big events where there is fanatical crowd behavior that you want to have in church.

Before we shame people for not giving us the reaction we desire, let’s remember one important aspect about God:

He’s not that obvious.

Remember it was Elijah who looked for God in the Wind, the Earthquake and the Fire, but came up empty all three times. It was the Whisper that put him on his knees.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Just finished up Drive by Daniel Pink and am trying to synthesize his thoughts into a concise package for future use. This is why I could probably never write a book; I don’t do filler very well. I try and cut to the chase and make sure my point is understandable in about a page or so and then trust that you might find it as interesting as I did.

The application of my reading usually falls in the direction of leadership and how it can make me a better leader. Whether as a professional pastor as I was for so many years, or now as a small businessman, leadership is indispensable if an organization or effort is going to effective for the long term. The Tea Party Movement may have its day at the polls today, but eventually it will need a head that can direct the rest of the parts in a coherent fashion. If everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.

But the way in which we lead is the operative story here. HOW will we move people from point A to point B? What method of motivation will be employed to accomplish the mission and achieve the objective? Will it be inspiration or intimidation, coercion or cooperation? And do I know myself well enough to recognize my default tendency?

Pink’s first point about motivation is that people need a sense of autonomy in their work. This is not to be confused with independence, or a go-it-alone, every man for himself mentality. Instead it is the ability to act with choice, to feel the freedom to set a direction, make a decision, or design a plan without fear that if it fails, I won’t be put to shame. Rather, I will be trusted as a part of the team or community that affirms I am capable to do the job.

I have to admit that I never felt this kind of belief growing up in The Church As We Know It. The fundamental paradigm I experienced was built on distrust, that I did not possess the ability to make the right call when it comes to matters of spiritual belief and formation. Consequently I was told I needed to be in attendance at meetings. To use Pink’s words, I knew very little autonomy.

I believe autonomy is not extended because it appears more difficult to manage, both in the Marketplace and The Church As We Know It. I recall a saying used to defend this mentality; “Don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out.” The implication is that I would no doubt make the wrong decision if I was afforded too much freedom.

To be fair, young faith might need these kinds of tight parameters as it develops. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child. But when I became a man, I did away with childish things, included in that is a lack of autonomy. I wonder if those who are disillusioned with the Church As We Know It are so because they feel they are still being treated as a child.