There are no weeds in the economy of God. There are, however, a lot of things we don’t know how to work with. So, fifty of us met in Simsbury, Connecticut (which has this week nearly as much water falling from the sky as Memphis). We were “converged” by Criterion Ventures, led by Joy Anderson, one of the most creative people in whole world (top 100, according to Fast Company Magazine). In her presence, everybody gets about ten notches more creative, too.
Patrick Duggan helped us move to understand the “church as an economic being” with some asking, “where is the cash stuffed away in all the nooks and crannies of denominational structure?” Others asked baldly, “what is the value proposition of the local church?” Others, also practically, “how do we find a workable business model for seminaries,” and “how do we find and form the next generation of leaders who can lead these spiritual/economic beings?” Andy McCarrol and I came curious about whether there were new models that might help us expand our Memphis congregational health strategies to scale.
There is no shortage of anxiety in the church today, but I share little of it. Church structures are certain to dramatically shed structure and form like our auto companies have done in humbling fashion. But humility is appropriate after decades of serving as the complicit center for a culture that is among the most wasteful in the history of the species. Does anybody think the church deserve a reward for our performance any more than Chrysler?
So we’ll have fewer full time “learned” clergy, a lot fewer seminaries and way less gothic boxes on corners. No big loss to the Kingdom of God. The astonishing thing is that we (I am an ordained part of it) have billions of dollars of liquid and material assets that are fungible enough to realign in service of what God might have in mind next.
We still have thousands of people laying their life on the line through churches doing all sorts of useful things. Some are young and crackling smart like Tom Daniel of Atlanta, or Tim Soerens of the Parish Collective in Seattle, Dan Senter of California and Cynthia Rasmussen in Rochester. How much more talent does God need?
And there are plenty of the “older young”–people in the 50’s-70’s who have seasoned talent and staying power: Jim Bennett of Church of the Savior, Steve Monti in North Carolina, and on and on. And some way smart veteran denominational mechanics: Phyllis Anderson, Greg Black of the UCC, Woody Bedell, who knows all there is to know about clergy health. How much talent does God need?
So too at the root. Last Thursday I witnessed the miracle of another class graduating from our CHN training, filled with power and encouraged by the practical knowledge. Every seven weeks another 60 or 100 goes through another flight of learning. How much talent does God need to get going?
There is startling number of faithful people who know how money works, and how to get it into the service of real change. The Investors’ Circle, Village Capital, Praxis, Imago Dei Fund, OikoCredit, Equilibrium Capital Group, e3bank–and the whole wild ecology of others found at SOCAP. How much money does God need?
This morning I walked through the drizzle to an abandoned field behind the hotel. Some pine trees were quietly starting over in their busy and awkward way. And down at the root of what I thought were just weeds are gorgeous little red flowers. How much beauty do we need?
When we release our fears just a second, we notice assets and human capacities sufficient not just for the day, but for all that may be required of us. If God has enough (which seems to be the case) perhaps we do, too.
Surely, we have at least enough to take the next right steps on the path. What we could use more of is clarity of vision. That deserves some prayer, discernment, deep dialogue and, maybe even silence. What exactly do we need to do next?
The question has an edge when we know we have enough to start.
– Posted on the journey