Thursday, February 21, 2008

praxis nexus

So sorry, gang, to be slow on the draw here. Last week I was in Charleston SC for a National Vineyard Leaders gathering, flew home and then turned around and flew down to Orlando for an informational/planning meeting for Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this August. I’ll get home Friday, but feel behind on everything.

Joe did a fabulous job last weekend with the wrap-up of our Ragtag Rebellion series. Those kind of Patton-type messages are actually difficult to do in our context…and even more so for “the new guy”; it requires a fair amount of equity and authentic personal buy-in from the communicator to the vision of a particular church. I was more than thrilled.

Equity and trust in a pastor take a long time, mostly because we want to see if “believability” is warranted. People want to discover integrity. Because of our hyper-information-age cynicism (especially in a vocal and polarized culture), we are thoroughly jaded. But we want to believe there are integrous people out there; trouble is, that process takes time. The question in the Church is: Are the pastor/priest/reverend’s message and actions congruent? When theory (science) or belief (religion) synthesize in real practice, we have praxis. Each feeds the other. I think we’re starved for praxis in the Church.

I’ll leave you with an interesting recent blog from Seth Godin. Godin is an author, entrepreneur and marketing guru. I thought his post succinctly captured the New World we live in. The need for philosophy and practice to be in alignment is critical. There’s an obvious truth to James urging his readers to be “slow to speak” in the New Testament. But whether thoughts tumble out fast or slow, we can be undone by what’s really in our hearts; and whatever is in our hearts will eventually leak out. At least that’s what Jesus said.

There’s a lot between-the-lines in Godin’s blog. I’m sure it’s not his intent, but in our YouTubed world we may have the closest thing yet to God’s omnipresence. Or at least, as the proverb says, “Character is what you are when no one’s looking”…and we are quickly arriving at the place where someone’s looking all the time.

Christians call that accountability. Libertarians call it Big Brother. I call it creepy. But it may not be a bad thing when you seriously think about it.

Politics aside, read the following with trepidation. Hopefully we all become circumspect for the right reason: we want to please God with all that is within us. Not just for approval ratings, but to honor the God who loves us wildly.

Expose us, God.

Seth Godin’s post: Why George Allen isn't running for President

It was a great Web moment. George Allen was the Republican Party's next star, anointed as a potential candidate for president in 2008. But first he had to win the Senate race in Virginia, considered by many to be a layup for him.

The traditional way to run a political campaign is to control your message. Control what you say and when you say it. Control who hears it.

Tell one story to your raving fans, and a more moderate story to people in the center.

As voters have seen again and again, politicians are good at this. Some people call it lying. But in general, politicians have gotten away with it.

The top-down, control-the-message strategy worked in the past for a few reasons:

--Media companies were complicit in not embarrassing the people they counted on to appear on their shows and authorize their licenses.
--Politicians could decide where and when to show up and could choose whether or not they wanted to engage.
--Bad news didn't spread far unless it was exceptionally juicy.

But George Allen discovered that the rules have fundamentally changed. Allen's challenger asked S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, to trail Allen with a video camera. The idea was to document Allen's travels and speeches. During a speech in Breaks, Virginia, Allen turned to Sidarth and said, "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen. As I write this, YouTube reports that Allen's slur has been watched on YouTube more than 318,000 times. Add to that the pickup from the broadcast media (which picked it up because it was popular, not because it was "important"), and you see why George Allen lost the election.

The ironic part of the appearance is that the first words out of Allen's mouth on the tape are, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to run positive campaign." The story didn't match the facts, and the facts showed up on YouTube.

For non-politicians: You can't tell two stories at the same time. Not for long.

Amen, brother. That goes for pastors, too. And Christians in general.


  1. 'People want to discover integrity.'

    really insightful...people may give leaders a quasi-benefit-of-the-doubt before they know them, but i have found time and again that buy-in/trust/believeability happen when people discover the integrity of their leaders...

    thanks dave

  2. Leadership gatherings and seminars seem elitist to me. Best if VCC sent someone from the maintenance staff, you know bottom up, the last shall be first. They probably will have better insights on how to minister anyway, hands on people. Trust is when expose your vulnerabilities to people and they do not take advantage of them...they love you in spite of them. How sad is it when we have wait or make people jump through hoops to earn our trust. Gods Word spoken in humble honesty will cut through the clutter of today, yesterday and tomorrow. It's when it's programmed to death it looses it's intent and simpleness.