OUCH! Written off as “negative”

I had one of those “OUCH” moments today. I was engaged with the state president of our movement who had come up with a mission statement he’s contemplating making into a bumper sticker. The conversation went to and fro for a while and was all good, then he played the “you’re negative” card, which I’m not. I just have a different perspective than I used to. It got me thinking. The moment we play the “negative” card, the conversation is attenuated and begins to contract. It is a value judgment that enables us to write the other person off and dismiss their ideas with one sweeping statement. As the person labeled negative, you can either defend yourself (thus sounding defensive), persevere (even when you’re not being listened to), or shut down – which I did.

I think it’s really important to scrapheap pastors that you pick your moments and pick your people carefully if you want to share your new-found perspectives and ideas gleaned from life on the scrapheap. If they’re not ready to contemplate that there could be a better way, you’re just wasting your breath, and it’s just too easy for them to write you off as bitter, twisted and negative.

Here’s some of the conversation:

Derwent
loving others as we have been loved and teaching every1 to do the same. (What Would Jesus Twitter)

Jack
can u teach ppl to love or is it a case of only being able to give away what you’ve received?

Derwent
Has to start with revelation of Gods love for us hence loving as we have been loved but then again I’m sure people can love even if they haven’t experienced love before. What do you think?

Jack

nah psychologists suggest that ppl who haven’t experienced attachment have significantly reduced ability to empathise and experience compassion. U can’t give what u aint got no matter how long someone preaches at u.

Melissa
Is that going to be our banner or something because it is very good. I can see that one in print everywhere!!

Derwent
Yep it’s our vision / mission statement. Heather suggested we get it done up as a bumper sticker πŸ™‚ I like the idea!

Jack
u don’t think it sounds presumptuous to “teach” everyone? when it comes to adult education, the best anyone can do is facilitate someone else’s learning… which is why Jesus used parables…. it was to take people on a learning journey….

Derwent
Jesus’ great commision finishes with and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you – hence our statement. As you and I have discussed Jack, the command that Jesus was talking about was love others as I have loved you. Everything is encapsulated in that one command. Profoundly. Simple and simply profound.

Jack
yeah but he didn’t mean our concept of “teach”. Our concept is greek and modern. It’s rote learning. Someone talks, we listen. Jesus was talking about a rabbinical style. “I do, you watch, we walk and talk” etc.

So if you’re using language for a contemporary audience, it’s not going to mean to them what Jesus meant. We live in a postmodern world… where “Teachers” don’t hold any authority and there’s no power in information anymore. We live in an information world! People don’t want to listen, but they’re more than happy to observe and have a conversation….

Plus, we could probably learn just as much from “them” as we have to “teach”…. see how arrogant the concept of “us” “teaching” “them” is? That’s how it comes across anyway….

Melissa
Bumper stickers would be great! When we did hampers this year gone Brett had the idea to get reusable bags printed up for church instead of the supermarket ones. I think that slogan would be great on them….might be worth looking into for next chrissy!

Derwent
But that’s always going to be the problem with words John, the way people interpret them. We can sit around debating them till the cows come home or simply go ahead and demonstrate them. It’s been common knowledge since I was at uni 20 yrs ago that people learn best by doing so when I use the term teach it involves instruction, modelling, … practicing and internalising. Try not to see everything in the negative because you miss so much when you do. It’s not arrogance when Jesus commands us to do something and it’s not arrogance when we repeat it to others especially when the command is to love others as we have been loved.

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5 Responses

  1. Institutionalized christianity is one of the most arrogant human constructs the world has yet endured. History will attest to that.

    Most religious ideologies are inherently arrogant, though. In fact, they’re often arrogant by design, not just some sort of inadvertent or misconstrued sense of self righteousness.

    The arrogance is necessary to legitimize the marketing and the marketing (both internal and external) serves to increase the arrogance. Marketers (religious leaders) need their consumers (followers) to believe that their product (institution) is the best on offer. The truest, the most beneficial, the most worthy.

    So the leaders need the followers to assume what is essentially an arrogant posture (ideologically) in order to align themselves with their particular brand. The internal marketing continues in order to dissuade the followers from checking out what other products are on offer. Conversely the followers need their leaders to assume an arrogant posture to reinforce and justify their decision to adopt this brand. They need to feel good about their decision.

    Mission statements, tag lines and bumper stickers are, in reality, just servants of the marketing strategy. Furthermore the marketing strategy is just a mechanism of competition that exists. Yes, competition. We live in an ideological meat market and all these institutions are screaming to be heard, eager to impress and, to be fair, generally well meaning.

    Just don’t talk about it, cause you’re likely to be labelled ‘negative’. πŸ˜‰

  2. Hey mate, when looking at your blog i see some sort of weird codes all over the page, in case it’s important I just thought I’d let you know it says this with all sorts of other stuff after it: “Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent in wp-settings.php line 12”

  3. Hey Dan, did you figure all that out yourself? I haven’t seen such a succinct, well thought out argument connecting ideology, marketing, arrogance and leadership before. That’s brilliant. I mean, not that it happens, but that it really makes sense. Wow.

    What’s the solution?

  4. Hey Jack, it is something I’ve worked through over time. Years working in both churches and the design/advertising industry certainly opens your eyes to the inner mechanisms at play. I know that I can certainly relate to Rob Bell when he says: “The thought of the word church and the word marketing in the same sentence makes me sick.”

    Solution? I’m merely a cheap-shot artist, solutions aren’t yet in my repertoire…

    Working on it, though.

    • Dan, the only marketing I would accept in relation to the church would be “buzz” or “viral” marketing – the power of word of mouth. The idea that if you eat at a great restaurant, you tell heaps of people who also want to go there. There’s an underground restaurant in Melbourne Australia with amazing food, and a massive waiting list. The location changes all the time, so they email you the location when your turn is up. No-one knows who owns or runs it. They don’t advertise. It’s almost like the more secretive they are, the more popular they become.

      As for solutions, keep up the great work as a cheap-shot artist, you’re brilliant at it, others can work on solving the problems!

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