We are ashamed to make mistakes–as well we should be, yes? It’s our job to get things right, right? So when we make mistakes, our instinct is to shrink into a ball and wish them away. Correcting errors, though necessary is embarrassing.
Churches hate making mistakes. Pastors hate making mistakes. Mistakes in business mean you’re a bad business person. Mistakes in church mean you’re a bad person person.
One of What Would Google Do?’s key contentions is that, “Corrections do not diminish credibility.”
In other words, in the Google age, the maxim really is true : “It’s easier [and better!] to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”
Churches rarely say they’ve been wrong. The pull of traditional Christianity is toward stasis and consistency, so that to change one’s mind is not encouraged. Liberal and conservative churches alike spend a lot of energy defending the rightness of the way things are right now.
So we want to have all of the i’s dotted and t’s crossed on a program before we take it public. We won’t announce a new small group until we know we have the people to support it. We poll our membership before taking a public stance on something controversial.
We understand our church programs and activities as products that will be judged against every other product in the church marketplace. Worse, their success or failure will reflect on our merit as believing people. We need to put out high quality products.
“Today, on the internet,” Jarvis insists, “The process is the product.”
So, I want my church to help college and post-college students make meaningful connections. The product could be a “young singles group.” There’s a ton of unanswered questions about who will lead it, what it will actually do, how much time it would require, and on and on and on. And of course, there is a very real chance that it could fail.
But why not start the process of making some of those connections, open up to the world about what we’re trying to do, and, if it is to fail, help it to fail magnificently.
Won’t that be more credible in the end?