Thursday, September 4, 2008

the improvisational cook

People who know me, know that I LOVE to cook. If you stopped by the Manse, you would notice a bookshelf in the kitchen with five shelves of cookbooks and cooking magazines! I know that I will never cook everything in all of those books, yet, what did I do yesterday? I bought five more cookbooks and two cooking magazines! One of those cookbooks is called “the improvisational cook.” As I was reading it last night (yes I actually read cookbooks and I don’t just use them to “find” recipes!) I realized that this cookbook had great information for every congregation—and not just for the next potluck!
The author states,
“Improvisational cooking is thrilling. It’s the key to ease and pleasure in cooking, freedom from recipes and set lists of ingredients, and liberation from other less tangible constraints: perfectionism, the voices of “I can’t,” fear of what will happen and maybe go wrong…Improvisational cooking demands that you shift your thinking, or at least temporarily put rigid notions and fears aside. This is true learning: gaining information and, more often than not, successes from being willing to make mistakes and a mess or two. Often what inhibits people from doing this is that they worry about what everyone else—their guests or family members or the omnipresent ghosts of stylish media cooks—will think of them if what they serve is not “perfect” or deviates from some other unrealistic standard.”

Can you see the application to the church? Fusion is all about being willing to take risks—"we’ve never done it that way before" is thrown out the window and instead a “why not?” takes its place. Too many times pastors are afraid to go with the Spirit because they are afraid of what their congregation, Session, or other pastors might think. That inhibits the Spirit’s work in our ministry! We need to realize the thrill of improvisation in our ministry. When we allow the Spirit to flow through us and our congregation, we have the freedom to explore new things. Don’t get me wrong—I know that this can be messy and sometimes it may even mean we try things that don’t work. We need to take that risk! If we continue to do the same things week after week, year after year, how can we expect different results than we have had in the past? We can’t! It is time we put the rigid notions of what constitutes “ministry” aside and let the Spirit flow through us and shift our thinking. Yes, there are certain absolutes in our ministries, but even the absolutes can be taught and explored in a more liberating way. It is time to put away our preconceived notions of how we do things and let the Spirit loose!

1 comment:

Rosella said...

You really need to be asleep at 4:30am!!!!
I am so surprised you have a half dozen new cookbooks, but I know you read them all and enjoyed them.
Asking the spirit to guide a congregation in an improv can be really dangerous, but I suspect, most exciting. Think of the things that can be accomplished if we don't insist on being in charge and let someone who knows what needs doing take over. We in the pews like to know the plan and be in charge. It is hard to turn it nover to the spirit, even when we know we need to do that. It is up to pastors to lead the way and show us how to let go and let the spirit..So, lead know how to do that.