This post follows on from my reflections on being a ‘BE’ church. (One more thought on that: a ‘DO’ church will I suspect, tend towards legalism and duty rather than enjoying grace.)
We also need to be a ‘BESPOKE’ church.
Again this comes from observing the questions people ask me about what we are doing. A couple of examples.
BESPOKE leadership development
People ask how we do leadership development. I usually answer is terms of life-on-life discipleship, accompaniment, mentoring people as they begin to lead and so on. ‘Yes,’ people respond, ‘but what do you use with people? What materials? What programme do you put them through?’ They want ot know the programme. they want to see the materials. Or I look at other people’s training programmes with their diagrams, charts, resources and amterials. Are we failing, I wonder to myself, because we don’t have anything like this? It all looks so impressive.
What do we do? Well, because we share our lives with one another we have a pretty good ides what people need, what their strengths and weaknesses are. I might think, It would be good for Joe to read this book. Neil could do with some one-on-one time to talk about this issue. This training manual is what Sarah needs at the moment. In other words, we make it up as we go along. Carl should do our Porterbrook training course.
What we don’t do is put everyone through the same process – because everyone is different. We don’t squeeze everyone into the same mold. It’s ‘BESPOKE’, tailored to reach person on a rather ad hoc basis.
Or take evangelism. I posted recently on our aspiration to develop evangelistic Bible studies into new churches. A few people have asked me what I mean by evangelistic Bible studies. What do they involve? What amterials do we use? What would I advise?
To me they are ridiculous questions (sorry to be so blunt). The answers are always going to be context specific. Steve and I wrote an evangelistic Bible overview called The World We All Want so we often use that. But it depends on the people. It depends on the context.
And why do you think any answer I might give would be relevant to your context! Work it out for yourself what would be best in your contest with this particular person or persons. Be a ‘BESPOKE’ church.
Moving away from modernism and management
I wonder if this attitude reflects the outlook of modernism – the desire to control, manage, quantify, systemize. But life isn’t like that. Mission isn’t like that. People aren’t like that. Mission is never under our control. Get over it! Enjoy being dependent on God and then making it up as you go along. Don’t worry about a one year plan or a five year plan. Don’t squeeze people through a sausage machine.
Set the culture and vision, and then set people free to innovate and respond to the changing context.