Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Insights from Adam Hamilton, Part 2

(Continuing to share highlights from Adam Hamilton's teaching at last week's Western NC United Methodist Annual Conference)

Yesterday I shared some of the things Adam said leaders DO. He also shared one thing leaders DON'T DO. I'll get to that in just a minute ...

But first I want to share another leadership principle Adam taught that really grabbed me. Every last one of our churches, including the one I serve, needs to get a firm hold on this principle. I've seen this play out over and over in my life and ministry.

The principle is this: "Change, innovate, improve, or DIE." To illustrate this, Adam showed us a vinyl record album from the 1970s: "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii." Then he showed us the same album on an 8-track tape. Do you remember those? (If so, you're really old.) I'll never forget when I got my first 8-track tape player in my 1964 Ford Falcon. I was so cool. Until somebody broke into my car and stole it!

Anyway, Adam went on to show us the same album on a cassette tape. Cassettes held more songs in less space, so they quickly outpaced 8-tracks. Then he showed us the same album on CD. CDs hold even more songs in less space, and you can go right to the song you want without rewinding or fast forwarding.

Finally Adam showed us his iPod, which fits in his pocket and holds 20,000 songs--so many that you could drive across the United States 10 times and never hear the same song twice! Then he turned it on, and voila! There was Elvis singing the same songs that were on the original vinyl record.

Then Adam asked us, the delegates of the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, this question: "Is your church like this (the vinyl record), or like this (the iPod)?" A great question for us all to ponder.

What if the record label who owned Elvis' music had said, "We only want to put it out on vinyl. If people really want to hear Elvis, they'll make the effort to listen to it the way we present it. There's no need for us to change or innovate in order to get our music (read "message" for us Christians) out to new generations of listeners."

To think of a record company doing this is ridiculous. And yet churches do it ALL THE TIME. Even contemporary churches. Even churches like mine and pastors like me get stuck in our places of comfort. But if we do that, we die.

"Change, innovate, improve ... or die." 

Oh dear, I see this post has gotten long, and I haven't told you the one thing leaders don't do! Well, I guess I'll have to save that for tomorrow ...

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