Disruption has gotten a bad rap. It’s almost like “the name that shall not be spoken.” We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid disruption and reinforce status quo. This is remarkable, because disruption is our friend. Disruption is the friend of you and me, our churches and the organizations to which we devote any time and energy.
Last week, Adam posed a series of significant questions about changes we are eager for, and improvements we dream about in our congregational systems. Those questions ended with: “How can you jump-start some critical conversations in your congregation?” What I learned as a pastor of six congregations is that most of us will not show up for a worship or a committee or board meeting at church eager to learn more about disruption. Much like the vegetable that is “hidden” in pasta so the vegetable-averse child might eat it so she learns to like it, most of us need to experience disruption (and realize that it actually helps things) before we talk about it.
Pastoral search committees tend to be very organized when it comes to on-site candidate visits. There are elaborate schedules and timelines that account for nearly every second of a candidate’s visit. And, by the time they meet a candidate face to face, the search committee has also become quite adept…at talking. They can answer most questions and field most inquiries with practiced ease. Whenever I went on one of these visits, I would wait until a couple days before (with version 6 of the revised interview schedule in hand), I would contact the committee chair…and ask for a change. Not a big change, but enough of a disruption to see, not what the committee would say, but what they would do. Something like, “instead of having you give me a tour of the city, could you arrange for me to borrow a car so that I might do that on my own instead.” Or, “I know we talked about me meeting the staff individually on Friday morning, but how about I meet them all together instead.”
While there were good reasons to suggest these changes, mostly what I wanted to experience was how the committee would respond. A terse email of: “You know, we’ve worked hard on this and we’ll see what we can do” told me that disruption was not yet a friend in that congregational system.
The way we learn how to use disequilibrium in service of health in a congregation is not first to talk about it, but to experience it, and then reflect on the miracle that we all lived to see the sun come up the day after disruption.
Oh, as I read the gospel, God is also a friend of disruption. Salvation. Repentance. Crucifixion. Resurrection. The gift of the Spirit blowing where it will…
…it seems that God created the world and all who are in it with the friendship of holy disruption.