25 February 2009
of ironic reading choices, sacred cows, and my hope for a streamlined church
Back when I was a missionary in Africa, I happened across an interesting book. It was called Revolution in World Mission and it (roughly) advocated the end of the practice of missions as we currently participate in favor of an entirely new system.
The irony is that the new system basically would have me train some local people to do what I was doing and then I would go home. Local people would be missionaries in their own lands. The system of sending strangers off for long stints in foreign lands would be curbed considerably.
And I bought into this idea. It helped me to realize that I was a cultural novelty with a limited shelf-life. Eventually, the reality would set in that a local person, given the time and resources that I had, would be able to be much more effective in the mission than I would.
All of which meant that I could no longer be a missionary in Africa. And I loved being a missionary in Africa. And a book I picked up while serving in a place that I loved advised me to stop serving in the place that I loved so that others might do it better than me. Ugh.
The point of the story is that in order to advance an ideal that resonates deeply, we often have to kill the sacred cows that stand in the way of that ideal.
I typically yearn for a leaner, meaner, more efficient church. And yet, when I look at the list of programs, I rarely see one that deserves to be cut. Is efficiency, then, my sacred cow? Maybe the Kingdom doesn't need my stremlining ideas as much as it needs a unified voice? .
Or maybe the real question is whether we trust in the value of the ideal more than our own will - only when the ideal outweighs the cow will the ideal win out...