Monday, May 4, 2009

Origins + Labs: McManus and the 1st Space

This was a fascinating two part message on culture and the church. I guess he’s given this talk before (a friend was disappointed to hear it again), but it was new to me and I found it both fascinating and challenging. Since he didn’t feel he was clear the first session, McManus spent more time unpacking it in the evening session. I’ll compress the two talks and make it more linear … so much for right-brained leadership. McManus starts by asking a haunting question:

If everything we’re doing is working exactly right (at 100% efficiency), will we bring about the change we desire?

When I think about success – even though we’re always told to do otherwise – I think of a big church, big missions budget, etc… But even when there are large churches, the community isn’t always transformed – even if a ton of individual lives are. This kinda rocked me right out of the gate.

McManus said significant cultural change doesn’t happen within the church walls. He went to Paul’s encounter on Mars Hill in Acts 17. Paul was distressed at all the idol worship in Athens. Distressed because God was not being honored and people were seeking gods that can’t help them. So he goes to the synagogue. But you can’t change anything in the synagogue (or church). At least you won’t stop idol worship.

This is where McManus introduces the idea of “first space.” This is where everyone is like us – and we like everyone. There are understood rules and it is “our turf.” We too often pretend to be changing the world inside the church walls. First spaces, I believe, are important, but we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we are changing the world just talking to ourselves.

In the evening session, McManus unpacked the first space by way of examples. First spaces would be churches (as just noted) or someone like John Eldredge speaking to people about their relationship with Jesus. In terms of movies, Fireproof (Kirk Cameron) is a first space movie. It is made for the Christian community, has great influence within it, but its influence beyond that community is pretty limited.

McManus does not dismiss the importance of first spaces, but he warns that if we “live” in the first space, we’re going to become irrelevant in the 2nd space (we’ll get to that tomorrow).

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