Getting More Done by Doing Less

This is a Google Tech Talk by Marc Lesser. Even though he comes from a Zen background, there are still some excellent points, especially for those of us called to lead churches in this culture. One of the things he talks about (especially at the end of this) is about chaos/innovation. It makes sense but I had never put those two things together before.

He says something as simple as wearing your watch on the other wrist puts you into ‘chaos.’ It shakes things up. From this unfamiliarity innovation can be birth. I see how this is possible. Of course we have all heard the quip “if you keep doing what you always have done you will keep getting what you have always had…” or something like that. If we continue to do things the same way, there really isn’t much chance for innovation.

Chaos forces us to look at things differently. It forces us to access what is important and what is not. If we are thrown into chaos by some type of catastrophe, we find ourselves doing things differently. This also means that we will look at things differently too.

One of the things I’m taking away from this is to not fear the chaos. Also it might be good to create my own chaos from time to time. Perhaps something as simple as changing the time of a meeting, or the order of service might help us to find ways to innovate. This is not change for change’s sake, but rather using change (or chaos) as a tool toward innovation.

In the UMC we are in a type of chaos with the decline in membership/worship/etc. Yet, this has been such a slow decline that we have been able to adapt rather than being thrown into complete chaos. We still believe we can ‘fix’ the things that are wrong. Perhaps it is time to make drastic changes to throw us into complete chaos. For example…how much chaos would we be in if we stopped statistical measurements? What if we canceled worship services? What if we stopped having our administrative meetings in the church building? You get the idea. We would be forced to think differently. That could be a very good thing.

Lazy Daze and other Haze

I mentioned in my last post (the one I did from my Palm Pilot) that I have been quite busy. Too busy in many respects. The summer brings with it camps to lead, weddings to perform, funerals to lead, kids to be played with, family to vacation, VBSs to organize and a host of other responsibilities. Since no one is telling, or asking, me to blog, my blog doesn’t get very high priority. I’ve even had difficulty keeping up with the blogs I read!

Well, in respect of full disclosure, I probably have had some time I could post to this blog, but I’ve been spending time with my Father’s Day present…which was the new NewsRadio DVD. I loved the show, now I can watch the first and second seasons on DVD.

I’ve also been doing reflection and thinking about church and all. It is beginning to be a pain to be quite honest. After all, I’m part of a denomination who is trying to survive. Numbers are very important to us. So, after 6 1/2 years of being out of pastoral ministry I’ve been placed in a church that is declining. Over the past 2 years we have had over 20 people from our congregation either move to other cities or die. That is over 15% of our congregation that isn’t here any more. To make it worse, a few of these folks were very generous in their giving. So, the issue I’m facing is a declining congregation with shrinking resources.

It could be worse though. Over the past 2 years we have also seen an increase in giving, but it isn’t enough to keep up with the increase in costs.

Of course I would love to see the church grow. But, here, I’m seeing what happens when an organization is looking toward survival issues. The questions surround, how can we make our church grow. Now, I’m all for growth, but deep within I wonder if that is the goal we should be working toward. I’m not convinced that Jesus’ goal was for the church to grow. I believe, rather, His goal had to do with the Kingdom of God. Yes, I know about the great commission. Yet, getting people into a church and through some type of ‘program’ isn’t what I would consider discipleship.

The first disciples were literally world changers. They were not content to sit in a church, join in a few programs, and go home and watch DVDs of NewsRadio. What I yearn for is the same Spirit that empowered those first disciples. What I yearn for is a church whose “motto” isn’t “Come Grow With Us” but rather “Come Help Us Change the World.” I’m hoping and praying that in the midst of us trying to survive (the church I serve and also the denomination I’m in) we will begin looking not at the numbers, but at the purpose for which God has called us into existence. For if we are not about our purpose, what is the point of existence?