What Netflix Can Teach Us About Church

nonprofit-storytelling-featured-imageThis blog post by Carey Nieuwhof is nearly a year old but it speaks well to what we are facing as The Church.  Carey shares five shifts in culture embodied in Netflix.  One of the great take-aways for me

Clearly people are looking for a better story. Church leaders need to bring it to them.

I love watching the Netflix original shows because they have great story lines, push the envelope, and are rich and full of life.  Carey calls them the movies of today.  It’s not the bland, one size fits all of TV programming of the 20th century.  It is full, rich story-telling–on demand.

We need to tell the Greatest Story Ever….well.  The entire Gospel in all it’s richness and interesting twists.  No Netflix or TV show can touch the drama and impact of Jesus Christ.  Tell….The…..Story.

Tension

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As a Pastor, I often hear that a good church is one that gets along.  Anytime there is tension or conflict that particular congregation gets labeled bad.  What if our perception is backward?

I’ve often said that if there isn’t at least someone upset with the way things are going in a congregation, the congregation is dead.  Here is another way to put it from an article by Amy Butler:

A member of my congregation recently came to see me and we agreed: tension is absolutely necessary in any congregation that wants to welcome the future. The truth of the matter is: any congregation that wants to be part of the future of the Church — whatever that will be — must be ready and willing to welcome whatever will come.

And that means tension.

There’s tension between what was and what will be. There’s tension between policies and vision. There’s tension between roles and responsibilities. But how do we move forward? We feel the tension, but we want the future. What to do?

Amy has four ways to deal with tension in the church

First, there has to be a commitment to hiring good people, and to helping good volunteers step into meaningful service. Please, friends, empower your senior clergy to hire an excellent team; these professionals will make or break your efforts. Then, furthermore, help qualified and competent lay people step into leadership roles. They will take you to the future! Hire the professionals, then let the laity step in, and empower them to lead.

Second, in a system welcoming the future, there has to be training. TRAINING! In any way that we can summon education around roles and responsibilities, that education is key. We have to communally understand why we are here and what responsibilities our roles require. When we have that, we can move forward with confidence.

Third, if we’re transitioning, we have to work to keep the vision alive. Tell each other why you’re here. Remind one another of the gifts of the community. Reiterate the substance of your life together — again and again. Keep the vision alive.

Fourth, and last: learn to trust each other. When a new leader comes in, when change begins to happen, we want to welcome that change. After all, we’ve been waiting and working for such a turn of events. But when the change comes, we often think: “It almost feels like we haven’t participated in such a change!” Trust your leaders. Trust each other. We will make it through this change.

The last sentence really sums it up for me:  We will make it through this change.

The changing face of marriage

I often hear that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.  Then I hear that number is not right and actually the divorce rate is falling for marriages since the 1990s.  Then something else is blamed.  Then another thing is blamed.  Then we stand around pointing fingers.  But what if marriage has changed?

A sociologist interviewed by the Times connects the rise in divorce to women’s changing expectations, and the decline to men’s adaptation. It used to be that women needed marriage. A husband meant compliance with cultural norms, financial stability, the ability to have sex and children without social censure.

It’s not that way anymore. As effective contraception has become available, and women’s economic power has grown, the nature of marriage has changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals, something, the Times’ sociologist says, we’ve now figured out.

I so resonate with the phrase “changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals.  I posted a meme on facebook the other day and lamented how so many well-meaning “senior saints” wonder if the kids and I will be fed if Rachel (my wife) is sick or out of town.  I’ve actually had to get Rachel to tell a person that “yes, Matt does most of the cooking in our home.”

I don’t think this is a bad change from well defined roles to a give-and-take between equals.  But it is a change and it is one more thing we have to negotiate between the generations and in our society in general.  How many of our institutions still assume a stay at home mom?  What happens when it is a stay at home dad?  What happens when both partners make sacrifices to career for the sake of the family?

There is still a lot of ground to cover for us as we figure out what all this means.  I’ve been wrestling lately about what this means for the church.  We continue to see God up to new things in God’s creation.  Marriage is just one of those things.  How can we as the people of God support families as they negotiate their partnership in the midst of a world that just isn’t set up to support them?  How does Grace fit into all this?  Can forgiveness be the gift we bring to the table as the Church?

Lots of questions this morning.  If I had the answers, Rachel and I would be on the lecture circuit.  😀

Leadership Challenges in Church Revitalization

or Mission is Messy:

Any disconnected church that seeks to reengage with their community will find the experience to be messy.

There may be physical messes like mud on the carpet, smudges on the walls, dirty bathrooms, or broken vases. The way of church life to which your people had grown accustomed will suddenly change.

But, there are also relational messes—things changing that some do not want to change.

In revitalization, it’s hard to transition to a missional mindset. Kids will break things. Life will change.

Church revitalization is an opportunity to lead God’s people to a renewed focus on God’s mission.

But in the end, it’s worth it all.