Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Equippers as Environmentalists: Re-Imagining Leadership in Today’s Western Church Part XI

Tools Of The Trade, Take 2

Originally uploaded by Barefoot In Florida

After an introduction – Part I, Part II, Part III, and looking at the five mega shifts happening in our Western Culture – Part IV ,Part V, Part VI and Part VII, and Part VIII, now it is time to re-imagine leadership in this context.  Part IX and Part X starts the re-imaginging process and this post continues it.

The Tools of Environmentalists
So what does it practically look like for equippers living out their role as environmentalists instead of master programmers and are there any helpful tools to use in an organic way? I have stated before that in light of the seismic shifts that our culture is undergoing, and because the change we are experiencing is both discontinuous and unpredictable, we must shift the way we go about fulfilling our mission in light of our context. Joseph Myers in his recent book, Organic Community, gives us some help in how to move from being master planners to environmentalists.

He describes organic community in this way: “Organic community has the human complexities that promote artistry over mechanics. In our worship of ‘how-to’ pragmatism, we have in some cases treated the church as an object and programmed the life out of it. It would do us well to remember that our job is to help people with their lives rather than build infrastructures that help institutions stay alive. Sometimes we focus so much on building a ‘healthy church’ that we forget to tend to the health of the people. Healthy environments are vital – alive. They are not inanimate – dead. When places encourage community to emerge spontaneously, they have motion, emotion, and a living spirit. The goal is not to manufacture community, nor is the goal to build programs. The hope is to watch living community emerge naturally and to collaborate with its environment in helpful healthy ways. The difference between a paint-by-numbers kit and the blank canvas of an artist is the difference between master plan and organic order. In short, master plan tries to manufacture life whereas organic order is an invitation to live (Myers 2007: 27,28).”

While Myers doesn’t suggest throwing out planning altogether, he does make some great distinctions between master planners and environmentalists. Master planners use master plans to control the future, while environmentalists use organic order to enable life to spring up. Master planners begin with the end in mind, while environmentalists begin with a horizon in view. Master planners ask the question “Where are we headed?” Environmentalists ask, “What are we hoping for?” (Myers 2007:29-31).

What I enjoyed about Myers’s book is that he supplies us with nine organizational tools that are designed to be used in an organic way to move us from trying to “program” community to using organic order to create an environment where community can emerge naturally. I have included a chart with the nine tools in the appendix with a short explanation from Myers. (Click on chart for larger view)

Tools of Environmentalists - Joseph Myers - Organic Community

Tools of Environmentalists - Joseph Myers - Organic Community

In the next post in this series, we will look at the postures of Environmentalist.

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