Friday, January 27, 2012

The Elephant Room

Last year and again this week, James MacDonald, an influential Illinois church leader brought together a group of guys who might be prone to criticize each other but never talked in person.

There are different camps and we don't often talk.  Sometimes we talk past each other; often we misunderstand.

So MacDonald decided that it was time to address the elephant in the room.  Bring together people who love the Gospel and God's Word, but differ substantially in ministry philosophy and have a 'frank conversation.'

I wonder if it would benefit our body to have an Elephant Room.

Host a live conversation.  Video recored it for the benefit of the body of believers in the CGGC churches.

It takes courage and MacDonald has taken heat - mainly from those in the 'reformed community' who 'aren't fans' of those under the bigger tent of Evangelicalism.

I would be interested in hosting such an event.

But I wonder what you guys think: would such a thing be beneficial?  Would we get the participation necessary?

I believe that it is necessary for us to continue online, but what about in person?


Blogger Brian said...

I was leading a meeting yesterday about something as obscure as what food will go in the backpacks of our backpack food program to the schools, and there were major philosophical differences.

I truly wondered if this meeting would produce anything but irritation. And yet, great, vigorous discussion was had, and we have a menu. Nice.

I believe we have to figure out how to have vigorous discussion, and think this type of scenario could be very helpful.

1/27/2012 7:09 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

From my perspective, Dan's post highlights one of the most important issues: online vs. face-to-face.

One of the more effective ways to try to solve a problem is to first identify what the problem is. For the most part, the discussion over the past few days has focused on trying to solve an unspoken problem.

So, before creating a new online forum, before creating an Elephant Room, my suggestion is that someone offer clarity about what problems these proposed solutions address. The fact that Brian is closing this blog could be the problem. The fact that there is not a forum in the CGGC to discuss items like this could be a problem. The fact that the CGGC has been "taken over" (to channel Bill's thoughts) by a shepherd-driven model could be the problem. It really doesn't matter what the problem is, as long as it is clearly stated. Part of the issue here is that every solution offered is addressing a different problem. That is the first step. I want to be very clear: how you define the problem will assist in better understanding what is the best solution.

The second step then is to figure out what the various solutions could be. Should there be a forum? Should that forum be face to face or online? Based upon the discussion I've been reading on this blog, I'm not fully convinced that an online forum is really going to make that much of a difference. I'm pretty much the only one that doesn't have an issue with anonymous posts. So, if you really want to eliminate anonymity, then meet face to face. You can't create online what is better done in person. There are limits to what a blog can do. You can't make it into something that it's incapable of becoming.

Going back to Brian's initial posts about shutting down the blog - no one offered a significant story or experience about the positive things this blog brought about. There were several "I met new people blah blah blah" but after six years of discussion, that's pretty lame for positive outcomes.

I'm not trying to be negative here, but I think we're over-reaching about the impact on online forum like this can have.

We were designed to interact face to face. If we are intended to model our current faith after the early Christians, they were just fine without an online forum.

I don't have the answer about the best way to proceed, but I know that I haven't yet read it on this blog.

Brian created the blog based on his own initiative/apostolic leanings and his instincts. Following similar reasons, he chose to close the blog.

Now, we're talking strategy and project management, etc, as a way to establish a new blog.

Which one sounds better? Again, I'm not saying to not do it. But, so far the best I've read is that we're creating something new because we can. Not because it solves a problem or meets a need. It strikes me as a "we've always had a, I guess we should always have a blog."

I usually try to be more focused in my posts, but there are many things about this conversation that are troubling.

Thanks for reading.

1/27/2012 7:57 AM  
Blogger Dan Masshardt said...

In person is almost always better.

However, online still has value, in my opinion.

It's just a different kind of discussion. I think we could have gotten through the atonement conversation in 15-20 mins instead of 3 days.

Brent, the problem is that there is no real agreement about what the problem is. If I were to put together a gathering / event, that would probably be a major part.

We need to get things out in the open.

There are definitely elephants in the room.

1/27/2012 2:34 PM  
Blogger walt said...

dan and brian,
you know me well enough to know i have no issue with vigorous discussion. perhaps i like it a bit too much. in any case, here-here.

as for the lame positive reviews of the blog, let me give you my view. if this blog had not existed, i would not have gotten reconnected with the cggc while in ithaca, and would not have been involved in many of the things which i have been for the past 2 years, including being youth director at plainfield and now an elder at harrisburg. i would not have any concept of apest, i would not have had to resettle with the ideas and differences we have here, i would not know any of you, and would probably be much more closed-minded and more combative with my Christian brothers. based on that, i say it was worth it.

on the issue of the problem, here are a few things i'm hoping to address by means of the forum:

1) a connection point for men who want to seek God to meet and build relationships based on common drive and mission.

2) a place to wrestle with ideas and implications, not just in abstraction but also in the practical. sometimes i think bill says it a little strongly, but i agree the two cannot be totally disconnected. a place to discuss how we do mission and where God is leading us by various means, including the Word, is important.

i was originally going to say more, but i think those two pretty much cover it. i want a place where someone in a situation like i was can still get connected to what's going on, and i want a place to wrestle with these ideas, both in themselves and how the rubber meets the road. and i don't think i'm alone in that.


1/28/2012 12:29 PM  
Blogger Dan Masshardt said...

I'd say that's some fruit walt!

You exhibit grace and truth.

That is a biblical combination that we are often sorely lacking.

People and churches that realize that both grace and truth are essentials are sorely needed.

1/28/2012 5:48 PM  

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