In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin suggests the following three points(2) about belief and leadership. I post these because these three points provide an interesting contribution to the dialogue about new, creative approaches to the cultural ways we "do" church:
#1: "Many people are starting to realize that they work a lot and that working on stuff they believe in… is much more satisfying…"
#2: "Many organizations have discovered that the factory-centric model of producing goods and services is not nearly as profitable as it used to be."
#3: "Many consumers have decided to spend their money buying things that aren't factory-produced commodities. And they've decided not to spend their time embracing off-the-shelf ideas. Consumers have decided, instead, to spend time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter, and on things they believe in."
Now, here's why I'm thinking about this right now in terms of ecclesial practice: This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend— and that marks a cultural tension in our society. Thanksgiving is traditionally the time we set aside to appreciate the things we believe in (e.g. family, faith, food, friends, free-breath, etc.)… but it also has become the time we set aside to consume and buy in an attempt to avoid the work of belief. Both approaches satisfy and draw crowds… but one is much more genuine and long-lasting than the other.
It's a Good Friday vs. Black Friday battle royale.
Seth Godin's view is that our society is growing weary of wasting time and money on mass-marketed trends. And yet, I'm observing the sales, the ads, the dollars, the lure… Every Thanksgiving-Thursday our hearts are encouraged to be grateful and every Black-Friday our compulsivity compromises us.
Perhaps our approach to church suffers the same tension. We know that "church" should be genuine and long-lasting— deep in its personal and communal impact. But we also can see the infiltration of the Black Friday model, appealing to our compulsions rather than to our beliefs. We are compromised by our quick-fix-systems and consumeristic-habits that ultimately erode our beliefs.
Seth Godin is suggesting that people, in the long run, need (and want!!!) leaders who will lead according to belief. I want his words to be true… but there is a great sale at the store on friday and again on sunday.
(1) Godin, Seth. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (New York, Portfolio/Penguin), 2008, 9.
(2) ibid., 9