by Terry Camsey, Major –
An interesting morsel caught my eye recently in Salvationist (June 17, 2006). It was a quotation from the book, The Case Against Christ by Canon John Young, and reads as follows:
“What’s the difference
between Jurassic Park and the Church of England?
One is a forgotten world
ruled by dinosaurs
And the other is a blockbuster movie.”
Many of the mainline Christian denominations have been in the doldrums for years and, I guess, the above comment is one writer’s view of what part of the problem is—a generational disconnect between the perceptions of those responsible for steering the denomination into the future and the reality of the challenge observed on the front lines by those attempting to connect with the world of today.
Advice handed down by those no longer on the front lines (“When I was doing your job this is what I found worked for me…you should try it,”) and based on hands-on ministry with previous generations can be seen as of little benefit by those trying to do the job 30 or 40 years later. The world has changed and continues to do so at an accelerating rate.
The situation can be worsened if advice is handed down as edicts with no option other than to follow commands.
Speaking as one who spent many years in program capacities at both DHQ and THQs, it seems to me that part of the problem lies in whether those responsible for program see themselves as “directors” or “resourcers.” There’s a world of difference between a “director” pushing people to follow his/her agenda—possibly to advance his/her own “career”—and a “resourcer” who is available, and willing, to help the leader on the ground at the point of ministry delivery, to do that ministry more effectively.
This suggests, of course, that the resourcer’s agenda should arise from the articulated needs of those to be resourced. How does he know what that agenda will be? He asks Jesus’ question, “How can I help you?” then listens carefully to answers and shapes his agenda accordingly…that’s a long way from “Everybody do this, do that!”
And what of those described by Canon Young as dinosaur rulers? What is their role?
Stephen Covey tells a story, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, of a presenter at a hotel who had forgotten his markers for the flipchart. He rushed into the corridor and asked the first staff person he saw about his problem. The bellboy (I believe) said, “I’ll take care of that for you, sir.” The presenter was surprised that the bellboy didn’t say it wasn’t his job. So he went to the manager and asked why he had received such superior service.
The manager said, “Let me show you the hotel chain’s mission statement.” He did, and the presenter said, “Well, all hotel chains have a mission statement but they don’t give service like this!” The manager then proceeded to show him the mission statements for each department, spelling out how the department was helping the hotel chain fulfill its mission. Mission defines what an organization is supposed to be doing (clarifies its business). Vision is a compelling picture of that mission being achieved with excellence and clearly presents a target to shoot for. When mission is clear and understood, and the overall vision is clarified, the job of both “resourcer” and “resourced” becomes much simpler—the “resourced” determining how, and with resources available, that mission and vision may be best accomplished in the local setting, and the “resourcer” determining how to best help that leader.
The advisory board of a corps I recently was working with searched high and low for a copy of a vision statement for the International Salvation Army. They couldn’t locate one!
If the trumpet shall sound an uncertain note, who shall prepare for the battle?