And I also know that in order to change the leadership culture within a church you have to do three things.
- You have to play along to gain access to the people who can change things.
- You have to gently prod leadership with ideas that are approachable.
- And sometimes you need to show them your middle finger and just plain stick it to the leaders by giving them glimpses of your vision for reform.
Here are some examples of moments in history when visionaries have extended the middle finger (mostly figuratively) to the man and changed the culture forever.
- 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence and told King George, “Come and get me, punk.“
- William Wallace lead a band of warriors against King Edward in a fight for independence for Scotland. “I’m not your slave, I’d rather die than serve you. Here, look at my butt.“
- On December 1st, 1955 Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. “What are you going to do about it?”
- George Whitefield lead massive outdoor revivals in staunch opposition to the established church and local laws which required permits to preach. Much of the American evangelical church was born from his disobedience. “We are going to meet outside, where the people are… you know, just like Jesus did. You OK with that, sucker?“
- Martin Luther recognized he could barely move the needle an inch in his lifetime if he worked within the rules of Rome. So he wrote some things down and made his own appointment with the Pope Leo. “You’ll be changing one way or the other, Mr. Fancy Hat.“
- Instead of ignoring the Pharisees and their muttering, Jesus teaches his band of cultural losers that they should go out and try to reach Pharisees. “Sometimes you stick it to the man by going out and loving the man while sticking it to him.”
What’s the problem with this?
- A lot of us are the man.
- In nearly all of those situations, the established religious leaders were on the wrong side of history. Oops.
- We stand in a long time of people who realize… awful hard to stick it to ourselves.
The reason I’m saying this is to remind people like myself that we are, oftentimes, the biggest agents against change. We have our ways. We have our culture. We look at prominence and degrees. As the established religious leaders we give a million excuses why the pains in the neck are wrong and we are right.
World changing men and women come into our lives, observe our behavior and practices, and give us the middle finger.
The lesson from the examples above is simple: When people come to you to give you the middle finger of no-more-fellowship… you need to listen to them. You need to give them the opportunity to be heard.
They may be right and you may be wrong.
You need to look at those people with sober judgment.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. – Apostle Paul, Romans 12:2