Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Is your ministry domesticated? Is it docile, easy to control, and unlikely to cause trouble? Passive, quiet, unassuming, compliant? Have you tamed it?

I hope not.

G.K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy, saw Christianity as the wild kingdom: "The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild."

Can we have "good things run wild" in the CTK story?

I hope so.

But it won't happen unless, as Chesterton notes, we "give room." Things don't run wild without room. If we cage people, we can't expect them to run. If we control everything, we don't get wildness, we get compliance.

A church, it seems to me, should provide generous fairways on which people can play the game. I have used the phrase "freedom with handrails" to describe the organizational philosophy of CTK. The handrails are our beliefs (doctrinal statement) and our brand (mission, vision, values). As Chesterton noted, there has to be "rule and order." But the chief aim of boundaries is "to give room for good things to run wild."

How do we as leaders give room for good things to run wild? One of the key ways is to repeat four words: "Yes, Sure, You Bet" to people and their "wild" ideas. Caution is acceptable, but you can't lead with it. Caution needs to come later, in the shaping of things. In a wild kingdom our predisposition needs to be "Yes." Then, we come alongside to train and support.

A second key is to highlight ministries that have been started "in the wild." If you constantly promote the "church sponsored" ministries, you send a signal about what you value. If you constantly promote the idea that everyone is a minister and there are a myriad of ways to reach out, you will be amazed at how creative people can be.

A third thing that I think is key is to validate the craziness that ensues when people go wild doing good. Not everyone is going to know what everyone is doing. There may be small groups forming that you don't even know about! Is this good, or bad? It's good! Stand up and say, "The most awesome thing happened this week! Somebody started a ministry without permission! Yahoo!"

If people can't use the word "wild" to describe your ministry, you might need to change that. At the Burlington Worship Center I sensed a little too much domestication setting in, so in a few weeks we are canceling our Sunday morning services and renting the local roller rink for "Roller Church." I think it will send a clear message that we are not here to "do church." We are here to see that good things run wild.

1 comment:

Austin said...

Great to read this issue..wild is the bottom line of church growth. I have seen wild in CTK, i think it is great to be part of the team that "gives room"
Great to read from you Dave. I have copied Embody to my blog..www.koyula.blogspot.com.