Saturday, August 21, 2010

church-planting, tall poppies and movement ...

An offshore breeze can make all the difference to a decent ocean swell. The influence that blows across the top of a wave can determine how well the wave forms up, but it means nothing without the momentum and rhythm that comes from beneath.

I came away from a seminar on church planting recently - asking myself the question ... "how much is top down, and how much is bottom up?" Sure, the influence from above is vital in delivering form, but that form means very little if there's no groundswell from below. Patience and timing are everything when it comes to facilitating movement.

As I was wrestling with this tension between the priorities of leadership development & appointment, and the analysis of culture and context, my wife drew my attention to Mark Sayers' recent blogpost. Not unusually, Sayers was helpful in bringing me to see that the Australian culture of "tall poppy syndrome" is neither unique to us, nor is it something that needs to be "overcome" for church planting movement(s) to surge in our nation. In fact, if respect for leadership is a primary block to church planting, then one wonders how the likes of Jesus and Paul were so successful 2000 years ago. (Romans and Pharisees weren't much more endearing than socialism or papal authority ...) ... it may even be that a lack of respect for authority provides some healthy compost for the movement of God's kingdom.

And so, in thumbing through Luke 10 again, I noticed some helpful thoughts in my wrestling ...
  1. Jesus DID appoint (and implicitly, equipped) 72 workers to go into the field ahead of Him ... there was influence from above to help give form to the movement of God's kingdom ...
  2. In looking for a "person of peace", the workers ARE instructed to discover where God is already at work ahead of them ... there was an expectation for the workers to work where some sort of groundswell was already emerging ...
No matter how strong the offshore breeze blows, top-down influence cannot initiate movement .. and no matter how consistantly the swell rolls in, bottom-up momentum alone will never deliver the potential it promises without being given some helpful form.

So, leadership development and appointment will be a key strategy in the harvestfield of Australia ... but so is a good read on the momentum, rhythm, and story that comes from beneath ... and a tall-poppy "ocean bed" might prove to be a magnificent asset in the telling of this story.

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