i.love.structures.part.2

Continued from the prior post.

There are a couple of really bright and refreshing college students that my wife and I took to lunch a couple of Sundays ago. One of them in particular was really curious about the philosophy of ministry at Thrive. It was cool to get to field the questions and pour forth about the whys and hows of Thrive’s ministry. One of the things that got me thinking was her assessment of our “structure”. She remarked that we were not a pyramid but more “circular-like”. Of course, that got me thinking about our structure, and I immediately dismissed the circular thing as inadequate. Since that time I have been really mulling it over. How would we graphically depict  Thrive’s ministry model?

Every time I thought that I had it down (at the expense of lots of wadded up paper) something else would come to mind that would kill that model. I began to seriously question what we had been doing. Were we going about things so haphazardly that we cannot define our model with a concise graphic? I seriously began to feel some frustration over it. Here are couple iterations of this process:

First, I started doing concentric circles. God in the middle, vision surrounding that, then staff, then programs then people. But that felt as if God was protected in some cloister only accessible to the staff. Additionally, it seemed like such a model would communicate that vision is “protected” by the staff. Yes, I agree that staff (especially the pastor) ought to be very close and very intimate with the vision. But, I also believe that, in an emergent church, vision is also the product of the Holy Spirit driven passions of the people as they “live” ministry in the “everyday” of life. Back to the drawing board.

Then it was a bird nest – I thought I was really cool as I messed with this one. The problem is that while a bird nest is certainly a planned undertaking (like the Chinese stadium), the truth is that a nest is really a product of reaction. Place a few things here. Then place a few things there to hold those things there. That looks a little weak, so let’s shore it up. Oh, and be careful because if you remove that part that whole side will come apart. Many things we do are reactionary – it’s part of life. However, we must endeavor to be as proactive as possible – to be as prepared as we can. Living life in a reactionary way is a rough way to live. Doing ministry in a reactive way is equally stress-laden. As cool an image as it is, a bird nest is hardly the picture I want people to imagine when they view Thrive’s structure. It certainly cannot be the model of a fluid church. Again, back to the drawing board.

More on this in the next post.

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