Monday, March 16, 2009

The Monkey and The Fish

Dave Gibbons begins the Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church with an eastern parable.  A well-meaning monkey sees a fish struggling in the water after a typhoon.  Having a kind heart, the monkey with considerable risk to himself reaches down precariously from a limb of a tree to save the fish snatching him up from the water.  The monkey lies the fish on dry land.  For a few minutes the fish showed excitement but soon it settled into a peaceful sleep.

Translation: it died. Relevance to the 21st Century church: everything.  

Gibbons is the founding pastor of Newsong, a multi-site international third-culture church.  Years ago, Gibbons was building his megachurch and was struck with the thought of building a big box that would not be used most of the week to entertain people who for the most part would not change the world.  He was a well-meaning monkey thinking he was saving a fish.

God took Dave Gibbons down a journey that has huge implications for us today.   What he came to embrace is that the world is changing to a third-culture were we need to be willing to cross lines to reach people where they are.     

Love your neighbor
If we take the parable of the Good Samaritan to heart, we see that our neighbor is someone not like us.  It is someone of a different race.  Someone who with different beliefs.  We are called to love, to act, to serve.   To be Christ rather than just talk about Him.

Be Liquid
When you pour water into a glass, it takes the shape of the glass.  Pour it into a teapot and it takes the shape of the teapot.  Water can flow.  Be water.  Be Liquid.  

Our message remains the same but our forms must change.  And our conflicts should not be about forms.  it's a waste of energy.  Third-culture is about being water to a thirsty world.  It's being adaptive.  It's being willing to change.  It's reading the culture.  It's being a Jew to reach Jews.  It's being poor to reach the poor.  It's being liquid

Three questions

1.  Where is Nazareth?  Who are the people on the margins of life?  Who are the outsiders?  Who are suffering the most?   Instead of looking for the leaders who can offer the most to our churches/movements/organizations/own kingdoms, Gibbons teaches us to look for who are the most in need.   It is the model of Christ.   It is how God operates. God's power is most perfected in weakness.  

2.  What is my pain?  Instead of always looking for our own spiritual gifts/talents/resources, Gibbons encourages us to identify with our greatest pain.  It is through our pain that the world can relate to.  It is our pain that shows the power of Christ.

3. What is in my hand?  What has God given me?  Use that.  Stop focusing on what we do not have or comparing ourselves to some myth.  Stop trying to become something we are not.  

I highly recommend this book!  it spoke to my soul.  It gave me hope and that we can adapt to help change the world.

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