I attended the church planting Congress in Calgary last week. It was a great experience overall. I dislike being away from home for that long, but it was worth it. Gathering with seven hundred leaders and pastors from across Canada is an encouraging experience.
Does that mean that everyone “gets it?” Not a chance. Some never will. It’s important that we recognize this up front. Frankly, I think if we all saw the seriousness of our situation many of us would be jumping off bridges. Many others would be leaving ministry. Some would be on their knees a lot more…
I have echoed many of my blog posts on the Congress on RESONATE.
Today I wanted to note a resource that has been really helpful to me over the years. Vineyard USA publishes Cutting Edge magazine. To this day it is a free publication. They have had some outstanding articles over the years. The latest issue has a couple of good ones, the best probably being an interview with the authors of Evangelical Ecclesiology. The article title is “Theological Foundations for Church and Culture.”
But the article I want to quote from in this post is the last in the magazine, an interview with Charles Park. This one hurt. In short it reaffirmed that in terms of leadership development for the Canadian church (broadly defined I might add) we are way behind the eight ball. Working from some ideas in Blue Ocean Strategy, Park argues that the Vineyard has tried to operate in the big sea of seeker sensitive, when God has designed it to operate in the small sea of postmodern ministry and mission. He notes that entering the big sea means less impact, and skews the development of leaders toward a culture that is dying. Where then will they find leaders equipped for the new culture? In my head I am hearing, “this is a call to Canada.”
I was looking for something else and stumbled across a blip penned by Jordon Cooper about three years back. Jordon is one of the brightest thinkers in Canada, and also happens to be more widely read than thirty million of us. Jordon’s outlook is very bleak also (but not without HOPE mind, but our hope isn’t in the church now is it?). In that blip he writes,
“We look for [the] defining locations and people for a lot of different reasons. The main reason is that most church leaders are not church leaders. As George Barna said a couple of years ago, most pastors are wonderful people but are not leaders and so we naturally want to appoint leaders to go where we are afraid to go ourselves. Charlie Wear said something to me years ago in a Denny’s in Fullerton and it was something like, “If you have God’s calling, why are you waiting on the permission of someone else?” but that is strongly built in to how we see ourselves in the big scheme of things. Despite everyone calling themselves a visionary leader, very few people are that. Most are followers, even among “leaders”. Even on Resonate there has been two discussion threads that start with, “Where is Canada’s Brian McLaren ?” or in other words, why won’t someone tell me what to do within my church?
“My other reason for why we do this comes from our own intellectual laziness or fear of making a mistake. A couple of years ago I read the amazing book [The Ingenuity Gap] by Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon who introduced me to the idea of a global ingenuity gap .. In it he points out that all over the world, the experts don’t know nearly as much as we think they do and make decisions based on too narrow a knowledge. This leads to the wrong answers, partly because they haven’t looked at all of the questions yet. After a while it is easier to follow someone else that has had success and assume that they have it all figured out. Coming out of a post-theology modernity, the temptation is to follow the lead in the area of programming. The results are a bunch of clone churches based on Axis or whoever else is edgy and cool.”
All this to say, I believe our situation in Canada is far more bleak than 90% of Canadian leaders realize. Frankly, I’m not sure we want to know. Ok, honestly — I don’t want to know.
If you love the church, hit your knees more often….
A longer version of this post is HERE.