A Church’s Moment of Truth

[Note of thanks:  My three go-to sources for inspiration about The Church these days – besides the Bible of course – are:  1) The Atlantic  – which is the best periodical in the world, 2- Fast Company – which I have to read with a highlighter so I won’t forget any of the sparks, and 3- one of my clergy colleagues.  He knows who he is.  Thanks to all.]

moment-of-truthThe cover story for the September issue of Fast Company  is “Apple’s Moment of Truth.”  While some Apple people are freaking out over stagnation in iPhone sales and a slide in revenue, Tim Cook is a believer.  The article declares that “Apple’s future may look very different from it’s past.

Oh.  My.  God.

The past was pretty great.  What does this mean?

In a nutshell Apple (Tim Cook) has decided:

  1. To make more mistakes than they used to make.
  2. To admit it when they make mistakes and then change.
  3. To make innovation incremental – but steadily so.
  4. To “learn on the fly.”  To learn from every detail of a project – not just from the end result.
  5. To get over your embarrassed self.  (It’s more embarrassing never to try anything new than to fail after trying.)
  6. To ask – always – before making a decision, “How important is this?”
  7. To be less secretive.  (We become blind in the thick of our own decision-making processes.  We need feedback from people who are not at the table.)
  8. To embrace the fact that he is not Steve Jobs (and that’s a good thing.)

We in Church World are facing a moment of truth.  I won’t go there today in terms of sweeping, institutional thoughts.  But I would like to address our individual congregations.

Church Leaders:  you are facing Moments of Truth.  

Some of you faced those moments years ago, as I wrote here, and you did not choose wisely.  You unwittingly voted to close your church – maybe not immediately but probably sooner than later.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Your congregation received an enormous bequest and you choose to depend on that money rather than pledged financial support from church members.
  • Your congregation has several choices for your new pastor and you choose the safe one.  
  • Your congregation has a stockpile of money in the bank and you chose not to invest it in building improvements so that your ministry could expand or create a new ministry someplace else.
  • Your congregation is diminished in size and you chose to allow every possible group willing to pay rent regardless of their deeper purpose to use your church building.
  • Your congregation has the opportunity to house a ministry that would have positively impacted a new and different group of neighbors and you chose not to because you don’t want strangers in the building.

Any worthwhile meeting of your church’s governing board includes A Moment of Truth that defines who you are.  Are you – as a church – actually a social club?  Are you God’s hands in the neighborhood?  Are you directed by what is holy and life-giving?  Or are you directed by fear and pain-avoidance?  Are you more interested in pleasing the crankiest members or in pleasing God?

Happy Thursday.

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3 responses to “A Church’s Moment of Truth

  1. Amen and amen. Ever since we intentionally decided to be okay with mistakes and trial and error, there has been much more life and movement. And more mistakes and re-grouping too.

  2. Landon Whitsitt

    That list is friggin awesome.

  3. Your comments are excellent and timely in this political season. I used 1 John 3: 1-10 in my vespers service Wednesday to raise the questions about our church and our nation: truth versus deception: humility versus arrogance: mistakes versus children of the devil behavior

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