Friday, September 21, 2007


The CTK story has been messy, and sometimes we have not cleaned up very well after ourselves. Over the years, in addition to launching a couple dozen Worship Centers, we have also had a half dozen that haven't made it. We've wiped the tears from our eyes, and kept moving forward. But not everyone is as comfortable when things don't "last." I recently received an email in which someone inquired, "We see things happening in India and Africa....but how long will they last?" That is a very interesting question. My answer, of course, is the one in which I have become well-versed: "I don't know." Here's what I wrote in reply:

"As to how long things last, I have been quite surprised to see how long most of what we've done has lasted! But it's not one of my goals to make things "last." It is one of my goals to try to cooperate with God."

I would encourage us to not have as one of our goals to make something "last." That is language that fits better with institutional thinking than organic thinking. You want a machine to last. You want a plant to grow. We want to think of ourselves more like a plant than a machine.

A man told me recently about how he had transplanted a tree to his back yard. The tree did not do so well in its new environment. The leaves began to turn brown. The man was expecting company for a back yard BBQ. He wanted his tree to "last." So what did he do? He painted the leaves green with spray paint. Yup. Full-on impression management.

I am deathly afraid of institutionalism, when people become servants to the institution, instead of the institution serving the people. A good question to ask is, "What is being kept green?" Is it the organization, or the people in it?

One of the best ways for us to stave off institutionalism is to continue to be open to both the life and death of enterprises. Both life and death are part of the organic process. Frankly, one of the things that I find commendable about our story is how willing we are to close something if it is not "working." So far, I think we've shut down 6 or 7 Worship Centers, and we'll probably have several more before the story is over. We're not going to paint the leaves.

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