Ideas Week: Beyond Sizzle

It’s Chicago Ideas Week and yesterday I attended the CIW Lab on The Interfaith Youth Core, founded ten years ago by Eboo Patel.  Read his book for more.

It’s fun to be cool and having ideas is cool.  We applaud bloggers and other authors with Fresh Ideas although very few ideas are really fresh.  They are simply restated in ways a new generation or a new community can understand and receive.  But ideas without impact mean nothing.

The Interfaith Youth Core has been shifting to the next chapter of its life as a not-for-profit that teaches young adult interfaith leaders, and they’ve learned some things in this transition.  We, in the church, can learn something here.

IFYC has learned the importance of:

  • Picking the one thing you are really called to do.  They could do interfaith work in embassies, prisons, and elementary schools.  But their mission is now limited to colleges and universities in hopes of equipping the next generation of young adults to build religious pluralism.
  • Choosing a staff of rock stars.  Hire a team that others will want to work with.
  • Ensuring that everyone is on the same page.  Eboo shared the story of a janitor at NASA who – when asked one day what he was doing – said, “Trying to get someone on Mars.”  From the janitor to the chief engineer, everyone should have the same mission.
  • Possibly requiring a new team.  If team members are not 100% on board with a new mission, you need a new team.  Otherwise, the old guard will block or sabotage the new mission.

Any of this sound helpful for churches?

Most of all though, the take away from this CIW event was about the importance of impact over sizzle.  Even if people love you, even if your brand is excellent, even if the pastor/educator/musician on your staff is an expert, none of it matters if there is no lasting impact.

As we assess our mission trips, our “special music” and concerts, our Vacation Bible Schools and book groups, what is the deep discipleship we are nurturing?  Even if our elders and deacons are being equipped to serve the people, are they serving the people?

So many times we “come to church,” we participate in Bible studies or discussion groups, we volunteer for mission projects, and we leave inspired or smarter or gratified.  But what has been the result beyond our own edification?

A lot of ideas to ponder on a Monday in autumn.


One response to “Ideas Week: Beyond Sizzle

  1. Martha Shrout Brown

    Like the Nasa model — so true! Impact – Yes! Effectiveness – Yes! Taking a look at ourselves and institutions – Yes!

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