Monday, October 08, 2007

A Two Schnase Day!

My first one was in the sermon - I was preaching on being "ashamed of the Gospel" as in the Timothy reading for the day. Toward the conclusion, I Schnasied the congregation with my current favorite: "At some point, followers of Jesus must decide whether they will listen to the wisdom of the world or to the wisdom of God." I equated being ashamed of the Gospel with listening to the wisdom of the world. I think it worked pretty well. The Gospel makes some doctrinal claims and expects some discipleship responses on our part that seem pretty outlandish, even silly, when evaluated according to the wisdom of the world.

My second Schnase du jour was during the finance team meeting when somebody said that we needed to put together a budget so that people in the congregation would know what their money is supporting. I said something like, "Well, actually I don't think that's exactly right. Bishop Schnase says that people give because they want to make a difference in the world, to support a vibrant mission, or to foster positive transformation, not so much out of loyalty to an annual budget." Our lay leader then astutely noted that the leadership of the congregation might need to see a budget, but the people in the pews probably don't.

People are wondering just how to bring the 5 Practices stuff to life in a real congregation - small group discussions, book studies, websites, and things like that. But there is a risk of "gimmickry" with that approach, isn't there? We run the risk of thinking that, if we have a few book studies and slap a few ideas onto the internet, we've addressed and accomplished our task. But really (and I'm about to Schnase you here), "Answers will not come in easy-to-use new programs, through quick fixes, or by adopting new slogans." (p. 129) In other words, the answers we seek are not to be found in gimmicks.

Rather, the idea is that the "5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations" will be absorbed into the "congregational culture" which will then be characterised by "genuine hospitality, authentic worship, meaningful faith development, life changing outreach, and extraordinarily selfless generosity." (p. 130) This absorption may be one of the most difficult things a congregation takes on, and no amount of programming will make it happen. It must be an emergent, organic process that is spread person to person, team to team, class to class. Only then will there be an abiding, long-reaching change rather than a frantic scramble to find the "easy button" answers.

"Effective congregations change, improve, learn, and adapt to fulfill their mission, and [this book pushes] us to rethink our basic congregational culture, organization, and practice." (p. 9)

Sounds like a little more than a few book studies, huh?

Also posted here.


CARYL said...

Andy - Are you sure that the Bishop has not promised you a plum appointment in exchange for teaching people how to bring his ideas to life in the local church? Of course, I am in no way degrading the appointment you have now at FUMCNKC - no, no, would never do that! But you are doing a pretty good PR job. And I think it's a very cool way to get the message of the book out to the laity. It might even cause some of us to want to read it!

Martin said...

^^^ {slinking back into his lurker's corner..}

Andy B. said...

Martin - no, no, no. Don't slink anywhere, man! :) Your comment on the last post is representative of a whole lot of people, and it illuminates a particular area of concern for me. I have written and spoken a lot about the dangers of "gimmickry" and it is an ongoing challenge, I think, for the church to wrestle with.
Yes, we are doing several book studies here. Yes, this info ought to be put in user-friendly website form. Yes, we are transitioning into a new structure for ministry based on the book. So all of that is there, as you indicated in your last comment.

I just don't want us to stop there; I don't want "5 Practices" to become the latest fad, is all I'm saying.

Mark said...

This is an interesting phrsae, "It must be an emergent, organic process..." This must be your phrase, and not that of the Schnasinator... About a year ago we sat in the basement of COR, at the UMerging Colloquy as Bishop Schnase and the Rev, Dr. Scott J. Jones loudly and proudly proclaimed that, "nothing emergent or organic would ever happen on their shift." It would be interesting to see these five practices illuminated in the light of the postmodern context...which they are not in the current book.

Dave said...

I don't view the book as a fad. It's just a fresh take on a few important areas, some obvious and some not. Hospitality, Mission, Worship, Generosity, Faith Development, Passion, should go out of style. I like it because it gives us a common language to start making better connections as a congregation. We don't want to become Schnase clones, just the best Christians we can. I feel like the book gives us some tools we can collectively use to go forth and lead people to God through Jesus Christ.

Dave said...

Sorry, typo in my last post. Hopitality, etc should NOT go out of style.