Sunday, January 13, 2008

the power paradox...

I just finished a week long community organizing leadership training with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). It blew my mind! It also gave me some incredible ideas for organizing with OnFire. I'm excited, but at the same time, I'm nervous. I'll explain.

We've been struggling a bit at OnFire with direction. I mean, we know where we want to go eventually. We'd like to be a national group who equips local groups of young, justice minded people of faith with the tools they need to transform their communities for Jesus Christ. Sounds simple, right? (yeah, sarcasm never plays as well when written. My bad).

But we're struggling with how to organize people and do action at the same time. We know people don't want to sign on to another email list for a group who doesn't DO anything, but we can't really DO anything effectively without a critical mass of people. Quite a conundrum.

IAF knew my problem before I did. We can't do both at once. First we need to organize the people and organize the money. THEN we can work on effective action. "But until we've done something," I asked the trainer, "what are we organizing people for?"

"Power." That was the response. He went on to explain that the key is organizing people and money so that, when the time is right, you have the power to stand up to the powers of injustice. Sounds exactly like what we're trying to do! there's only one problem...


We're all uncomfortable with the word. We've all seen the old saying about power corrupting played out over and over again. Power. It's what we need in order to counter the self-serving powers that create injustice but, assuming we achieve power, how do we keep from becoming the unjust ourselves?

The key is in you. All of you. Us, in fact. As long as the power of OnFire, or any community based group for that mater, is centered in the people, rather than in the organization, in the community rather than in it's leaders, there may be a chance. I don't know for sure, but I think we need to try. I'll hope you'll try with us.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008


It's been too long since we've blogged... and for my failure to blog on my week, I am sorry.

But recently all my free time has been swallowed up in planning our very exciting retreat / Conference. We're going to be gathering with 30 young folks who are interested in On Fore and MOSAIC and we're going to do "leadership and organizing training" (plus worship, eat, hang out etc... all those conference / retreat kind of things).

And so I've been pondering what can and cannot be taught. Passion cannot be taught, right? we assume it's a gift from God or part of a personality. But John Wesley Talks about the Holy Spirit transforming our passions and affections (feelings/desires) So somehow, can we not shape our passions to conform to God's goodness?

I hope so, and I pray that our organized and well led (ha!) work in all the millions of places that people are working is gradually, incrementally even, reshaping our world into the kind of place that loves and accepts rather than condemns a committed couple. A world that feeds rather than bombs a hungry Child, and a world where women are respected for their strength, rather than being called a divisive presence.

So, this month, we're all coming to be formed into images of the Divine - passionate, leader-like, joyful givers who care more about love.