Ons preek jare lank oor ‘n nuwe kerkbegrip maar kry gemeentes nie in beweging nie!

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Transformasie

Ek is nou al meer as 20 jaar in die bediening.  En solank ek die kerk ken, sê ons: ons mense het ‘n verkeerde kerkbegrip.  Ons hou konferensies daaroor, preek daaroor, net om na ‘n rukkie by ‘n kerkraadsvergadering of ‘n pastorale gesprek te ontdek – die ou denke oor die kerk is nog steeds well alive and kicking. Mense sal nog intelektueel instem met ‘n nuwe kerkbegrip, maar as dit kom by die uitleef daarvan, die beliggaming daarvan, is dit asof daar soms geen beweging kom nie.  Byna asof ‘n mens vassit – stuck is – in ‘n mindset.

Julle sou agtergekom het dat die sisteem teorie van Peter Senge ‘n groot invloed in my denke oor tranformasie in gemeentes het. Ek lees onlangs die volgende op Alan Hirsch se webblad hieroor. Kyk gerus by www.theforgottenways. org:

The understanding of human organizations in terms of complex living systems is likely to lead to new insights into the nature of adaptibility, and thus to help us deal with the complexities of  church and mission in this vastly changed scenario. Moreover, it will help us create organizations that are sustainable, since the principles of organization of ecosystems, which are the basis of sustainability, are identical to the principles of organization of all living systems.

We need a different lens with which to view organizations and leadership if we wish to move beyond the captivity of the mechanistic paradigm which clearly dominates our approach to leadership and church.  It is the actual paradigm that is being addresses here, and not the incidentals. This relates directly to what has been said previously regarding the paradigm of Christendom. But here we will explore the nature of organizations and leadership per se.

A paradigm, or systems story, “is the set of core beliefs which result from the multiplicity of conversations and which maintains the unity of the culture.”

Most change programs concentrate on the petals; that is, they try to effect change by looking at structures, systems and processes. Experience shows us that these initiatives usually have a limited success. Church consultant Bill Easum is right when he notes that…“Following Jesus into the mission field is either impossible or extremely difficult for the vast majority of congregations in the Western world because of one thing: They have a systems story that will not allow them to take the first step out of the institution into the mission field, even though the mission field is just outside the door of the congregation.”

He goes on to note that every organization is built upon on what he calls “an underlying systems story.”  He points out that “…this is not a belief system. It is the continually repeated life story that determines how an organization thinks and thus acts.  This systems story determines the way an organization behaves, no matter how the organizational chart is drawn.  Restructure the organization and leave the systems story in place and nothing changes within the organization.  It’s futile trying to revitalize the church, or a denomination, without first changing the system.”  Drilling down into this systems story, the paradigm, or mode of church, is he suggests one of the keys to change and constant innovation.

A lot of energy (and money) is put into the change program, with all the usual ‘selling the vision’ exercises, consultations, workshops, and so on. In the first few months things seem to be changing but gradually the novelty and impetus wears off and the organization settles back into something like its previous configuration. The reason for this is simple, though often overlooked—unless the paradigm at the heart of the culture is changed there will be no lasting change.

I discovered this time and again while working with my denomination.  My aim was to try cheat history by recovering a missional mindset and a movement ethos as the central paradigm of the denomination. On reflection we managed to get the missional part of the equation into the centre, but we were not able to instill a movement ethos because of a deeply entrenched institutional paradigm at the heart of the organization.

The problem is that most people see the church as an institution and not an organic movement (a living system.) in spite of the fact that the Bible is replete with organic images of church and Kingdom (body, field, vine, soil, etc.) In such a situation, all efforts at other change were doomed to failure. The structures just revert back to default once the pressure of change is alleviated. The fact remains that for this very reason the vast majority of Christian institutions throughout history never renew and change. The institutional systems story informs so much of what we do. Machiavelli was right,

“Nothing is more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than achieving a new order of things.”

So vra ‘n vriend aan wie ek die artikel gestuur het: “Nou, wat is die antwoord?  Die artikel het my nuuskierig gemaak!”

Laat ek eers begin by wat die antwoord nie is nie. Ek dink Easum is reg – ons moet eenvoudig eerlik met onsself wees oor die feit dat baie van ons pogings tot transformasie misluk, nie omdat ons slegte teologie het nie, ook nie omdat ons nie probeer nie, maar omdat ons gekaap is deur ‘n paradigma – Easum noem dit ‘n system story – wat so diep in ons gegraveer is dat ons nie eers weet dat dit daar is nie. Die waarheid is dat ons nie ontsnap uit die houvas van die sisteem storie deur die opdoen van nuwe kennis nie.  Daar is ‘n punt waar nog nuwe navorsing en kennis ons eintlik net nog verder laat vasval. Ons breek die houvas van die sisteem storie alleen indien ons bereid om dit te begin leef, of laat ek liewer sê, begin waag om dit self te leef.  Die ons wat ek hier in gedagte het, is die predikante en die leiers van die gemeente. Ons kan nie verwag dat preke en kursusse oor gestuurde gemeentewees bv, alleen die gemeente in beweging gaan bring nie.  Vergeet dit, of liewer, spaar jou asem.

Die antwoord is eintlik eenvoudiger as dit, en in my vriend se geval meer voor die hand liggend as wat hy dalk besef.

Ek wil my vriend so antwoord.

Begin om dit wat jy preek en verkondig, te beliggaam met jou leiers. Onlangs het jy my ‘n storie vertel waar jy julle leiers uitgedaag het oor die vraag of God ‘n werklikheid is in die praktyk van julle vergaderings.  Na ‘n ongemaklike stilte, vertel jy, het een van die leiers eerlik geraak en gesê: “Ons weet mos die Here is nie werklik in ons gedagtes as ons besluite neem nie.  Maar, hoe doen ‘n mens dit?”

Dit was ‘n geleentheid wat jy raakgesien het.  Jy kon hulle toe blootstel aan die gewoonte om Godsvrae te vra terwyl julle vergaderings hou. Dit is die begin van die antwoord: Om die kennis om te skakel in eenvoudige herhaalbare gewoontes wat die nuwe denke beliggaam.

Jy sal agterkom dat, indien jy daarmee aangaan en met geduld leiers help om dit in te oefen, die ou sisteem storie van julle gemeente, wat in julle geval ‘n baie gesofistikeerde intellektuele narratief is, begin verkrummel en dat ‘n nuwe beweging in julle denke en lywe in die plek daarvan begin kom. Die kern oortuigings van julle huidige sisteem storie – alla Easum – gaan in die ontdekking van God se teenwoordigheid en direkte leiding in julle vergaderings stelselmatig begin plek maak vir nuwe oortuigings.

Omdat jy baie goed onderleg is in die teorie en praktyk van die Seisoen van Luister weet ek jy kan dit doen – ek wonder net of jy die geduld gaan hê om hiermee aan te hou en nie weer te default na ‘n nuwe klomp kennis en teorieë nie?

Ek wonder omdat ek self daarme sukkel.

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment