The Art of Sustainability: Imagination, Not Spreadsheets Will Create Change
A rational, data-driven approach won’t be sufficient to drive a sustainable future. We need more emotional engagement
The Guardian, 24 May 2013.
Addressing the problem of achieving environmental sustainability, the above article notes that logic alone is insufficient to persuade public and private leaders to risk the necessary changes. My experience with church planting and congregational vitality tell me that a similar dynamic applies to individual churches, adjudicatory bodies, and denominations. As it has from its inception, the Church continues to exist in a dynamic tension between body and building, between spiritual organism and human organization.
The Church as organization is preoccupied with the need to survive, seeking order and certainty, preferring predictability and security.
The Church as organism is driven by the desire to thrive, responding eagerly to calling and sending, motivated by generativity and risk.
It seems to me that the problem the Guardian article identifies is not with spreadsheets, per se, but with where they can take us. If we are not careful, the logical realism of our spreadsheets can anchor us too tightly to the organization side of the tension, convincing us that avoiding unnecessary risk is the sole measure of excellence in church leadership. Meanwhile, this same spreadsheet thinking can disconnect us from the from the organism side of the tension: our need to harness our God-given imagination and creativity, and to respond to Christ’s call to risk ourselves faithfully to bring into being the kingdom of God.
[Thanks to Sarah Lapenta-H for the original article post.]