Monthly Archives: February 2010

Salivating Over the iPad

iPad_200.jpgI would really really like an iPad. And I really really can’t justify getting one. It doesn’t plug any hole in my life. Doesn’t do anything that I’m not doing in some other sufficient way.

In the “Tool? or Toy?” category, it would be a toy for me.

But Mark Cuban is excited about it: “You can book it right now that it will be the product that kids of this generation grow up with and look back on with affection just like we did with the first video games. Video games changed how we grew up. The IPad will change how kids grow up.”

Wow, that’s setting some high expectations.

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Good Enough and Better in the Church

Gary Anderson, a retired Marine colonel, published advice for US troops doing relief work in Haiti. I posted excerpts from that article. But I left out this one.

Beware of mission creep. Your job is to try to get Haiti back to something approaching the way it was seconds before the quake struck. If the President wants you to do nation-building, he’ll let you know. Identify the things that only you as the American military can do and for how long you will need to do them….

Your best people are the ones who will get you into mission creep situations the fastest. Doctors and engineers always want to make things better, and in these kinds of operations, better is the enemy of good enough.

Think about that: Better is the enemy of good enough.

In our culture, we worship excellence. Don’t do anything halfway. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Go all-out. Give 110%. Don’t give God second-best. Blah blah blah.

But just to be contrarian, let’s think about “mission creep” in relation to the church.

We throw all kinds of money at church stuff, in pursuit of excellence. We hire professionals to run children’s ministries, because ordinary volunteers aren’t good enough. If your church has the money, you hire musicians, hire people to do pastoral care, hire janitors, hire multimedia people. We professionalize whenever we can, because they can do it “better.” We’d prefer not to settle for a “good enough” volunteer, no matter how thoroughly anointed by God. Some people in large churches thumb their noses at the way resource-sparse churches like Anchor must do things (I’ve seen and heard plenty of such comments first-hand).

Is the pursuit of quality an example of mission creep? I think it often is. Excellence, I believe, can be a church idol.

Likewise with buildings. I admire the Vineyard people who rent facilities rather than erect their own cathedrals. For them, a rented school is good enough. And, for some inexplicable reason, God still uses them. Instead of yoking to a multi-year mortgage, they can pour money into ministry and missions.

The purchase and development of physical properties can constitute mission creep. It’s not necessary. The churches of Jesus Christ can thrive without buildings.

Is political involvement mission creep? Does it go beyond the Great Commission? Lots of people feel it is. I don’t believe that MUST be the case, but that it’s pretty much the current situation in America. And yet, I don’t want to restrict what God calls people to do. God gives different people different agendas. It’s just that political action is so enticing, so distracting, to so many people.

And I must ask: how much of the stuff I do, for the Kingdom, is just mission creep? I’m a denominational Communications Director. Communication is important. The Apostle Paul used letters. Today we use newsletters and websites and email. But does a denominational Twitter feed really advance the Great Commission? How much effort should go into a United Brethren Facebook page? Where does “valuable communication” end and “mission creep” begin?

I can always do communication better. But when is good enough, good enough?

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