Friday, June 04, 2010

The Turtle Awards

(NB: Cross-posted at the Alberta Synod Convention Blog

“For a turtle to move forward it must stick it's neck out.” 

The Turtle Awards, are to be given to churches who take risks. 

Fine words. But I wonder how true they are. I need to ask, how far will churches be allowed to stick their necks out before being chopped off by the institutional church.

I get a little suspicious when church leaders encourage churches to foster innovation, mainly because it's been my experience that the institution is built to protect itself rather than to grow. In fact, institutions are designed to NOT change. Status quo is rewarded. Inventiveness is allowed - but only so far. We can do some re-modelling, renovate a room or two, but tearing down and re-building is not usually an institutional option.

If we're being asked to "stick our heads out" I think we may do so at our own peril. Not because it's not needed (taking risks is an imperative!), but because I'm not entirely sure the institution knows it's asking. 

Those who know me, know that I have a visceral dislike of institutional church. Mainly because the institutional church often works to keep it's machinery going, rather than moving forward in Jesus' mission. Institutional church is often more interested in efficiency rather than creativity. Good order instead of Spirit-driven chaos.

Or MAYBE, God is leading our church institution to model what they want from the grassroots. Asking churches to stick their necks out releases control because they don't know what's going to happen. Maybe that's their plan. Maybe it's an unacknowledged benefit. Perhaps God is using the (*gasp*) institutional church for Jesus' mission, dying to our prideful efficiency, and rising to claim and celebrate God's great and promised future.

Whatever the motivation, I'm glad it's there. I hope it stimulates some creative chaos, pushing our limits, challenging our cozy status quo. May God shake us up, pull the rug out from underneath our feet, and move us to an uncomfortable - but exciting - future

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