Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Graduating from Trials

If you've ever been through an extended period of trial and testing, then you know the indescribable joy that breaks through when you see that first ray of light at the end of the tunnel. The wash of relief and joy at the end of a long trial soaks all the way through you. Not only when we personally experience it, but we feel this vicariously as friends come through trials. We feel their joy, we taste their relief. We smile too.

I have a friend who's been in a good 2-3 year period of trial. It has been hard for him. All of 'trials' companions were there -frustration, disillusionment, saddness, loneliness, emptiness, even cameos of dispair. But recently God has opened up an adventure for him, a light at the end of the tunnel. It's a calling that, if it works out, will bless many lives. He is now entering that place where the the fear of missing out is stronger than the fear of staying put.

I think trials and tests are part of the basic training God uses to prepare us for life's next adventure. They are transitions where we are cleansed, healed from the past and equipped for the future. When trials have done their work we are ready, even excited for the next challenge. It feels like a graduation because it is. So even you've just come through a trail go ahead- wave to your mom, move your tassel and throw your cap.

Friday, January 01, 2010

BIG Institutions are in BIG Trouble.

In 2010 institutions are in trouble.
Don't believe me? When's the last time you waited until ABC Worldnews Tonight to find out the latest headlines? Been a while? Or if you want to know the score of the game from last night do you wait until the sports segment of the evening news (remember those)? What about the institution of the music industry? I can't remember the last time I bought a CD, how about you? What about the institution of education? More people are learning online (from home) than ever before. Many schools have twice as many 'distance learners' as on campus students. Do I even need to mention what has happened in recent years to big financial institions? Big Institutions are in big trouble. What about the Church. Ummm, here's what I think and here is what the facts seems to suggest. Churches that function as institions are in BIG TROUBLE TOO. The more a church or denomination functions and feels like an istitution the more trouble it is in. Big institutions, secular or 'sacred' are in big trouble too.

What does an institution feel like? Here's a few.
Centralized power and committed to preserving it (own power/control).
Status Quo
Resources disproportionally spent on survival (us) rather than mission (others).
Slow to Change and often Fearful of It.

Some might be surprised to discover that when Jesus called 12 men to follow him he wasn't beginning an institution (people built that). Jesus started a movement. Unlike institutions, the future of movements looks good, real good. More about this later (this Sunday).