Tuesday, December 08, 2009

climbers + basecamp

Just the two of us... on Tinto 210804

I love this pic... it shows Olly and I up Tinto on the 21st August 2004. 21st August was my maternal grandfather's birthday... and it used to be a wee tradition of his to climb Tinto on or as near to his birthday as possible. We tried to carry on the tradition... but I got fat.

Anyway... the pic is used to illustrate the idea of climbers + basecamp + mountain... its an idea that's being gestating in my head for a wee while now... I used it in discussions with Stewart last week and thought I'd put pen to paper, so to speak.

First off... we have the mountain. Its inhospitable and dangerous... but exhilarating and enticing. The plan is to climb the mountain... reach the summit... defeat it... conquer it. Its the goal... the point of being on the mountain (unless you are there to take photos of the peak).

We then have the basecamp. Its the support "base" for the climbers. Its from here that the climbers leave... and its to here that the climbers will, hopefully, return. It is a place of preparation and rest... a place of communication & understanding.

Lastly, we have the climbers... the people adventurous enough - some would say foolhardy - to dream the impossible... to want to climb the mountain... to reach the summit. People who are prepared to leave the comparative comfort of basecamp... risk their lives... to reach their goal.

Now... the analogy isn't a perfect one by any means... but consider this:

I see the traditional inherited church like the basecamp... they have dug in... made themselves at home near the summit of a mountain. They are on the mountain but not really "on it"... they are not out on it but rather are near it. They have a degree of comparative comfort but aren't as exposed as the climbers themselves.

The climbers represent the missional... apostolic... "out there" followers of Jesus. The folks taking the risk to get the goal God has set on their hearts. They are the ones who are reaching out... they are the ones on the mountain... in the thick of it.

The basecamp needs the climbers or they will never achieve their goal of reaching the summit... and the climbers will never reach the summit without the basecamp to support them. Both are necessary.

Thing is... without the climbers, the basecamp is a pretty pointless exercise - they gaze on at the mountain... they look at their goal... and do not have the means of achieving it... of reaching that which they long so much to reach. Maybe that's as far as they want to go... maybe they think the mountain will come to them - afterall, they've made the first move by turning up and pitching up.

And... without the basecamp, the climbers run a higher risk of getting lost... getting killed or turning back. If the climbers lack the support of the basecamp then it is unlikely albeit not impossible for them to reach their goal. The basecamp provides a sense of security... a necessary sense for wellbeing.

The climbers and the basecamp need to work together... neither can exist fruitfully on their own. Similarly, the inherited church and the new expressions of church that are emerging in the most unlikely and inhospitable of places need each other to survive.

I don't see things as static... but moving. I believe today's radical is tomorrow's mainstream.

Currently all new ideas presented to the inherited church are either co-opted and commodotised... or condemned as heretical or, even worse, irrelevant. For these new ideas to be tried and tested... the basecamp needs pioneering climbers to test the new routes presented.

Similarly... ideas that have stood the test of time... that have lasted... shouldn't be rejected by the climbers but learned from... and, hopefully, understood.

Ideally, there shouldn't be any tension between the two parties... but there always is... as a result of the individual values of the two parties being different.

That said... there shouldn't be this tension. The climbers, afterall, are an extension of the basecamp... and represent the pioneering spirit necessary to reach the goal... and the basecamp needs climbers to ensure the goal is met. Both are equally important and should be considered as such.

We need to move toward a "and" mentality rather than the usual "or" response... we need to see that there is room for both parties in this broad church of ours... and that it is only through working together will our goals be met.

What do you think?



Jonathan Blundell said...

Sounds like a wonderful, glorious, generous orthodoxy where we're all appreciated for the unique flavor we bring to the salad - rather than simply adding to the muck and mire.

Great analogy.

Angus Mathie said...

There is merit in your analogy, especially when you consider that in base camp you often have many people who have grown too old/ tired/ uncertain of making the push beyond yet have valuable climbing experience to call on.

The more effective the communication and adherence to a shared objective the more likely the intended outcome will be achieved. Blessed be the patient and skilled communicators and encouragers.


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