"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
January 30, 2008

Collaboration, Ambition And Community

‚ÄúWhen you grow up knowing rather than admitting that such a thing as the Wikipedia works; when it is obvious to you that open source software is better; when you are certain that sharing your photos and other data yields more than safeguarding them ‚Äî then these assumptions will become a platform for a yet […]

“When you grow up knowing rather than admitting that such a thing as the Wikipedia works; when it is obvious to you that open source software is better; when you are certain that sharing your photos and other data yields more than safeguarding them — then these assumptions will become a platform for a yet more radical embrace of the commonwealth.”
Quote from What have you changed your mind about? by Confused Of Calcutta

Someone help me, because there’s something I just don’t get!

I’ve always assumed, in a naive and almost childlike way, that collaboration would be the natural state of being for Christian thinkers. That like-minded believers whose public pronouncements reflect common goals would be willing to work together, forsaking personal prestige in the hope of seeing their dreams and ideas take root in the real world and bear lasting fruit.

Of course, the reality is that I’m a simple idiot for believing this.

Often I feel like the fictionalised Albert Speer in the play bearing his name. There’s a powerful scene where the ghost of Hitler confronts Speer about his denial with regard to the true purpose of the Third Reich. Over and over the Fuhrer‘s ghost breaks into ranting speech mode, only to ask again and again “what did you think I meant when I said?”

What did i think was meant when ministers talked about “their” churches,” when denominational leaders talked about “their” vision, when Christian academics talked about “their” projects (or passed off other people’s projects as their own!).

I still believe that church can be a collaborative project. In fact, I only believe in church as a collaborative project. For me, there is no point if it is anything else (or, at best, very little point).

But, in the end, it’s not an argument we can win with words. Part of what gives me hope despite all the disappointments is that I’ve actually tasted what church can be like when it really is collaborative. I’ve felt that truth. It can be done.

[tags] Collaboration, Ecclesiology [/tags]

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4
Responses
Toni 15 years ago

For a variety of reasons, church seems to have often been hijacked. It’s not always intentional, and sometimes the hijackers are unaware they’ve derailed the whole thing in order to make sure it’s done ‘properly’.

But Humans will take and make their own anything that they fail to perceive doesn’t belong to them.

It seems to me that each time the Spirit has moved freshly then one, two, three generations on, men have moved in and acquired what was not theirs. Why does ‘church’ get ‘done’ like it does? The minister prays for the congregation to hear what he’s saying. ‘Ministry’ is seen as a career option. There are priests and people are called ‘father’ against direct instruction from the bible. There is a kind of democracy that can crucify real ministry and gives a voice and authority to divisive and unspiritual men.

I could rail for a long time like this.

The church in Jerusalem, at least early on and with all it’s faults was a place that demonstrated what you describe. I very much suspect the model was repeated at Antioch, as I’ve seen it repeated in other places (sometimes even literally, with finance). But it’s a scary place to be if you *need* to be in charge if it’s only your position and not your calling; sometimes even if it is.

There’s a phrase I hear used sometimes.

Hatha.

Everyone hath a word, psalm or spiritual song to build up the body (paraphrase from Toni’s memory).

Tell me why we lead a service from the front, again?

Paul 15 years ago

in reality though i wonder if all those individual projects are a form of collaboration, ideas built on ideas, credit is short lived, collaboration is long term?

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Toni – there’s lead from the front and lead from the front. My view is that we can have “services” that are lead from the front without having all leadership and authority centralised. But, it takes work. Actually, it takes more than work – it takes trust, love and prayer as well.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

The sedimentary view of collaboration? Like water running through caves building stalactites and stalagmites.

In a sense, all academic work proceeds that way – it’s not something I would call collaboration though.

To me collaboration is more immediate, more mutually influential and more direct. It involves far more sharing of ideas that are not fully formed. If anything, a lot of academic theology works against this sort of thing.

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