Many people believe the oft-quoted judgment, “The most segregated morning of the week is Sunday morning.” My personal belief is that while containing some truth, it is overstated. I do, however, believe churches are far more segregated than they should be.
I do not believe that all-black, or all-Hispanic, or Korean, or all-white churches are inherently evil nor a blemish on the complexion of Christianity. But there is something beautiful about an integrated church. I personally prefer to be part of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic community of believers. Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic churches are more interesting, messy, and culturally rich than all-whatever churches.
Honesty requires that I confess I was not, nor am I a Trekkie. I’ve watched a few episodes but that’s about it. But this past week, I heard a die-hard Trekkie tell about a particular episode and apply it to ministry. It got my creative juices flowing and I want to pass on some thoughts about Tribbles.
The segment was entitled, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Tribbles, it seems resembled small balls of fur and had no other discernable outer characteristics. They were gentle animals whose only sound was similar to a kitten purring. The “trouble” with Tribbles, is the Starship Enterprise was overrun with them. No matter what strategy they employed to eradicate them, they just kept on multiplying. McCoy finally discovered the reason they multiplied so prolifically. Tribbles, you see, expended more than 50% of
their metabolism on reproduction and were born pregnant!
Periodically throughout the history of the Church, God brings about transformation in the form of renewal movements. These movements have changed the face of local congregations, seen throngs of people turn to Jesus in faith, changed communities and dramatically changed the culture. Each has been marked by seismic shifts resulting in conflict between the traditionalists and the change champions. Whether in a denomination or a local church, new movements of God generate intense conflict between the old and the new guard.
Paul Pierson is a Presbyterian Minister, Missionary to Brazil and Professor at Fuller Seminary. He contends in the renewal and expansion of the Church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of ecclesiastical power—never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, using unknown people, God is beginning something new that will one day impact the center. The epicenters of these movements are never the denominational “headquarters,” seminaries, theological conclaves or church governing boards.
At times in my coaching of pastors and CEO’s of Christian organizations, my heart goes out to the person I’m coaching. People are attacking their leadership. That’s so common I consider it little more than “white noise.” But what breaks my heart is when pastors and other leaders believe the criticism.
Truth is, any and all of us can justly be criticized for our leadership. None of us is perfect. Truth is, often the one’s criticizing would make a mess of things if they were in leadership. Maybe they were and did! It’s also true that some people have more innate leadership skills than others. The fact there are natural-born leaders out there does not mean the rest of us are failures.
Over the years, I have seen people born with very little natural leadership ability still lead very effectively. What’s their secret? How do they do it? Simple. They study highly effective leaders and observe how they lead. And then they learn how to act like effective leaders act.