Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tim Keller's First Talk

At the Anglican 1000 conference, hosted by Christ Church in Plano, TX, on January 25, 2011, Tim Keller answers the question, “What is a movement?”
Keller contrasts movements with institutions in 4 distinct ways:

    •     Movements are held together by a compelling vision VS. Institutions are held together by rules and procedures. 

    •     Movements advocate for others and are characterized by a culture of sacrificial commitment VS. Institutions advocate for insiders and are characterized by a culture of rights, quotas, and obligations. 
    •     Movements cultivate a culture of innovation, risk, flexibility and quick decision making VS. Institutions cultivate a culture of static ideas and slow decision making. 
    •     Movements attract, and are lead by,  energetic and ambitious people that do not struggle in raising resources; these people produce results VS Institutions struggle with leadership development and raising resources while being lead by people with tenure and connections.

Biblical Mandate. Keller goes on to talk about the Biblical mandate for movements by pointing to the book of Acts where we see “the word of God multiplied” and “the disciples multiplied” numerous times. But, Keller also notes that there is precedence for institutionalizing or at least organizing. In Acts and other New Testament letters, we see the Apostles appointing elders and overseers to protect the early churches from false doctrines.
We see that while churches must be part of a movement there is also room and a mandate for institutionalization in an effort to create order and protect the church. The challenge is balancing them. You must institutionalize a movement to execute a vision. If the vision changes every week it doesn't work. If the vision is over-institutionalized then it becomes benign and lifeless. There is a danger of holding on to a vision too long, and it's difficult to discern when to let go. Keller recommends 5 ways to maintain a movement.
5 Ways to Maintain a Movement: 
1. Spiritual Revival & Renewal. If people are white hot spiritually, then they will continue to engage sacrificially. You must smite people with the presence of God. These are the people that will live sacrificially. Fear, pride, selfishness, and self-righteousness are the great protectors of the over-institutionalized church.
2. Vision. There must be a distinct, simple, and compelling (persuasive) communication of the vision. You must have all three pieces. Make sure your vision statement is a vision and not just a tactic. Your vision must be Biblical, distinctive, and true to your gifts. You must be able to describe your vision for the future so that people can see it and want to go there. 
3. Innovation. You must create a culture of innovation. If you ask for feedback, you must respond to the feedback; if you don’t ask or do not respond, you will crush the spirit of innovation. It's equally important to associate with people that share your same core tenets of the faith but work in a different tradition or do things differently than you. These people will prophetically share with you your weaknesses.
4. Organic Systems for Producing Leaders. Movements attract leaders. If you are going to participate in a movement you must have a leadership pipeline and infrastructure to train and support new leaders.
5. Movements are enhanced by church planting. Church Planting is the best research and development for your network. 
Dynamic churches are self-sustaining and propagating standing on their own and are in no need of being propped up or assisted. To be dynamic the church must balance between movement and institution, ever aware of the natural tendency to migrate toward institutionalization.