Ruler Breaker? Not so Much.

I was talking with a stranger at a party and we were exchanging stories about allWhat We Want to Be kinds of things – our kids, what we did as kids, what we do now.

Some of the stories were from my collection of personal classics:  taking our kids out of school to attend epic movie openings, that time I sneaked out of the house the night the Western Sizzler burned down.  Some of the stories were about my current work which often involves working the system to help congregations and pastors discern and act upon God’s calling.

So you are a rule breaker,” my new friend said.  Actually, I’ve never thought of myself as a rule breaker.  On the contrary, I’m a good girl who follows (most of) the rules.  Or maybe I’m not.

Yesterday I attended another class with the Kellogg School Center of Nonprofit Management.  Note: Do yourself a favor and take one of these classes.  More about that later.

The brain candy this week is about innovation with professor Rob Wolcott who invited us to consider this:

What are the orthodoxies about how things must happen in your organization?

What would it look like to do the opposite?

For congregations “orthodoxies” have special weight because they are about God. God commands/demands/expects certain things.  The Bible tells me so.

And then there are the other orthodoxies that have more to do with custom than faith tradition:

  • We always dress up for Sunday morning worship.
  • We never drink coffee in the sanctuary.
  • We always elect somebody from the ___ family to leadership positions.
  • We never show film clips in worship.
  • We always serve ham at the mission dinner.
  • We never use real wine for communion.

I’m not saying we should dress down, slurp pew coffee, elect strangers to run things, replace sermons with movies, serve sushi, or tempt alcoholics, but I am saying that challenging what we’ve long considered to be the one and only way to do something is a good idea.  It’s not an easy idea to pitch sometimes, but it’s a good idea most of the time.

Counter-intuitive church is one of my favorite things.

So am I a ruler breaker?  Maybe.  But we all need to be challengers of the kind of “orthodoxies” that keep us stuck and out of touch.  Our institutional health depends on it.

Check this out.

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