Wednesday, May 02, 2007

We can be locked in by adequacy

Almost everyone would like to change the QWERTY layout of letters on a keyboard. This was designed to slow down typing when fast typing made the letters jam. But now we are locked into that system and everyone trains to use it, so change is resisted. We can be locked in by adequacy.
Edward de Bono - New thinking for the new millennium

Sometimes I think my church is like the QWERTY keyboard. Something that was effective is now just adequate. We are locked into ways and means of expression that once shone brilliant... but now only glow in the light of their own adequacy.

Its like shares... past performance does not guarantee future performance... but this can't be seen when we are locked into the routines and norms of the present.

There is a contentment about being adequate... and with that contentment comes a sense of wellbeing... a view that borders on arrogant that says "hey, it ain't broke... we don't need to fix it!"

Thing is... what are our success criteria? Numbers? Bums on seats at special events? Bums on seats every Sunday? Can we really talk numbers when the Lord speaks of being with the twos and threes? How can we tell that it isn't broken... if we use the standard measures of success?

I've been in places that are poor in numbers but rich in the Holy Spirit! As soon as we look around us and take pride in what we have... we have failed! Just like the successful farmer who wanted to build bigger barns in the Gospels. What happened to him?

We need to continually look to the future... its no longer sufficient to analyse the past in order to predict the future... we need to design the future... create new value with our activity. We need to build on past success... sure we do! but not to the detriment of the future.

We also need to create a culture of experimentation... we should be able to fail in order that we can succeed. Its the old adage of the light bulb and Edison finding so many ways not to do it.

At the end of the day, however, all our plans may come to nothing if we try to build the future in our own strength. The farmer mentioned above worked on his own strength... and that's why he failed! We may seek to design the future... but we will only succeed if we stay close to the Master Architect and seek His direction. The last thing He wants is adequate! He wants our all... and our best! Doesn't the creator of the Universe deserve more than what we give Him? OK is not enough.

There are new stories emerging where my church (the Salvation Army as a whole... and not just Bellshill) is becoming broader... where people are being given the opportunity to fail... where adequate and OK no longer cuts it... where dreams are vocalised and helped to become reality. Consider the Essential programme, for example.

Even as we dream our dreams... and witness our visions turned into physical realities... let's not fall into the trap of adequacy... and ensure we are actively designing the future under the expert tutelage of the Master Architect Himself.

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