Wednesday, March 24, 2010


That's Encouraging

A place for the God-Hungry talks about encouragement:
Henri Nouwen tells the story of a sculptor whose studio was next door to the home of a little boy. One day, a big flatbed truck pulled up to the studio and delivered an enormous block of marble. The big front doors to the studio opened and the marble was wheeled up to the studio. The little boy, playing in his front yard, followed the workers into the studio to see what would happen. A few days later, he watched as the sculptor took his hammer and chisel and began to chip away at the piece of stone. The boy eventually lost interest and went away. A couple of weeks later, the boy went back into the studio and then to his amazement, he saw no longer a big chunk of stone but in its final phase a beautiful carved lion. The boy was amazed and said, "How did you know there was a lion in that marble?"

Many people just need someone who believes there is a lion inside that block of marble.
How often does the church do the exact opposite - we do not encourage the lion in the marble - rather we wish to "square up the block" so that it can fit neatly into the stack.

It is the nature of institutions to develop standards, missions, roles, procedures, and everything they do must fit into them or move on. Each person that comes to the church is block of marble - inside of it may be a lion, or maybe an ostrich, or.... But we cannot let all those blocks of marble become all those things because that would be , well, chaotic, and we could not control it.

Which is the point in the end. WE CANNOT CONTROL IT. Leadership in the church is an unusual thing - its not about controlling the institution, its about enabling and encouraging the members of the institution to become whatever they are inside their blocks while setting boundaries that are reasonable (It's NOT OK to be a "hooker for Jesus.")

Too many churches these days decide to be something and then just tell people interested in being something a little different to find another church. That's just sad, and limited, and in the end it lacks God's perspective becasue it's about control.

Of course, if we really get down to it, it's about resources, they are limited and have to decide where to spend them. Which brings us back to encouragement. If the church cannot commit much in the way of financial resources to something, it can still encourage it. Rather than tell someone to find a church that is like that we can still love that individual and encourage them to pursue their dreams in our midst.

But we want CONTROL. Control we can never have because giving such to God is the whole point.


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