What Would Google Do

Sin Boldly: What Would Google Do? pt. 5

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.

This from What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, the book I’ve been exploring here, here, here, and here.

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?


2 thoughts on “Sin Boldly: What Would Google Do? pt. 5

  1. Jonathon Edwards says:

    I actually think that up until your last couple of paragraphs you are describing precisely the church that died in the 50’s and 60’s. The corpse is still wiggling about a bit, but its dead and gone just as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.

    If you poll the congregation before doing the right thing: dead church. If you wait to innovate a new program until you are sure i will succeed: dead church. If you spend energy trying to achieve stasis and consistency: dead church.

    Here’s the thing, a quote from Jurassic Park:

    “If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously….life finds a way.” Churches that think they can control the life of the Spirit are in for – perhaps have been experiencing already – a very rude awakening. Life will find a way even if it has to bulldoze down the sanctuaries and burn the Confessionals and Prayer Books and Hymnals and bylaws in the process.

    Of course, the whole emerging church trend (not ’emergent’, that’s old news) is just an expression of that reality. New vibrant churches are springing up in the middle of moribund dead ones. Or in abandoned buildings in the inner city. Or in people’s homes. That’s “life finding a way”. In so far as the instiutional, existing church resists that process, so it will suffer harm when life crashes through those walls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s