Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foundations and footings

I watched a video of Ken Robinson talking about education that I may have seen before, but I can't remember. Anyway, the link came via a friend and I'm really glad they sent it. The basic premise of Robinson's argument is that our educational systems educate creativity out of us. The result is that by the time most of us reach adulthood we are only interested in the right answer and generally afraid of getting the wrong answer. So we simply learn not to think creatively, because that might lead us to the wrong answer. It's a really interesting video and there is much to learn and apply to the church.

What also interested me was something he said about what originally drove public education and how it came to colour how we deliver and measure it. Two things determined all public education policies. One was the enlightenment the other was industrialisation. To some extent you hear echoes of this every time an industrialist wades into the argument about the outcomes of education. Anyway, I'm moving away from the point I want make.

Some time ago I began to ask questions about the nature of leadership in church and I wonder if we'd been building on the wrong foundation. Instead of building on apostles and prophets, we were building on pastors and teachers. But Robinson's point made me wonder how we got there. Where did we start? What turned a missionary movement into an institution? Was it just the result of moving from the margins to centre of society after the conversion of the Roman emperor? I don't think so.

For the most part we have to acknowledge that we are essential a selfish people. We not naturally predisposed to think what might be best for others at the expense of what might be best for us. You never hear the wealthy say to government, "Raise our taxes so that the poor don't have to suffer." On the contrary, we wriggle and squirm our way towards an economic construct that assume that if you make the rich richer, it will trickle down to the poorest parts of society.

So I think we need to take seriously that simple truth that we do what meets our needs first. And that is true of church. Perhaps we have built upon the wrong foundations, but we have done so because it suits us. It creates a comfortable environment for us and we can simply blame the world for not recognising the truth we preach. And that needs to change.

I have long held the view that those of us who know Jesus as leader and forgiver will have an eternity to sort out our problems and issues. An eternity where we can enjoy the fruit of our relationship with God and possibly even improve our backhand! On the other hand we are surrounded by people who only have a lifetime in which to make that choice. So what should be our priority? comfort for ourselves or engagement in mission for the sake of others?

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