It's a thought provoking article from a seasoned veteran, a must read for every church leader.
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When a movement of God begins, it is a centered set event with few restrictions in place allowing all kinds of people to join in. The centered set phase is an exciting time, generally led by charismatic vision and the exhilaration of life-changing ministry that is fresh and constantly spawning new life. It draws in the churched and unchurched alike. There is salvation of new believers and rededication of faith by those disillusioned or disappointed by past negative church experiences. This life-giving time with all the exuberance of craziness soon leads to an increase of policy and measures of control which closes in the center that once drew people together. Slowly but surely the centered set movement evolves into what Hiebert referred to as a “fuzzy set.” This process happens one decision at a time, each time adding one dot of confinement until the dots become so numerous that they begin to close off the very life that started the movement in the first place. The restricted flow of new life is much like a clogged artery that finally ends in a heart attack stopping life altogether. This is what Hiebert called the “bounded set” and what ultimately causes the death of what was once a dynamic move of God. John warned us that historically many authentic moves of God gravitate into over structured institutions that are dead for years before they are even aware of it.
As gloomy as this lecture seemed to me when John first presented it, I soon realized his message wasn’t just a message of warning, but one of hope. That’s when he added a second bell-shaped curve that swung upward again from the descending side of the first one. It was then that he exhorted us to “take the best and go.” Knowing that he might not be around when this event was to happen, John challenged us as leaders to be honestly aware of where we were on the curve and make a decision to start over, taking the best of who we were and leaving the worst behind. I’ll never forget sitting there in that large sanctuary along with hundreds of other young developing leaders being shocked as he announced with great passion that when this event occurred he would be the first to go. For me, it was a profound moment and one which I can’t help but revisit at this particular time of my journey.
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