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January 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


FISHING FOR BASS

Greg Turk is the founder of “Homie Soaps” a company that employs young men who live in South Central LA and are trying to clear of gang life in their neighborhoods.  Greg told a story in a workshop he led at last summer’s General Assembly of the Christian Church. The workshop was called, “Transformative Leadership and Innovation”. The purpose was to encourage congregational leaders to think differently about living into a new future.

The story he told was about a friend who lives in a neighborhood surrounding a lovely old lake. Once when Greg was visiting, he asked his friend, “Hey, are there any Bass in this lake?” His friend responded quickly, “No, there aren’t any Bass in the lake. Used to be, but not anymore.”

On another occasion Greg was driving by the lake and had some extra time on his hands. Being an avid fisherman, he had his tackle in the trunk so he pulled off, got out his rod and a lure, and fired a cast into the middle of the lake. After just a few minutes, he got a bite. Sure enough. It was a Bass.

Greg texted a selfie of him holding the fish, and added, “There’s Bass in your lake!” after a minute, his friend replied, “That must be another lake. There’s no more bass in our lake”.

Greg went on to make the point that all organizations including congregations tell two kinds of stories about ourselves. The first kind we tell he calls “limiting stories”. These are stories that sound like, we can’t do that, or we’ve tried that, or we don’t have enough people to pull that off. There aren’t any more Bass in that lake.

The second kind of story, the mirror image of the limiting story, is the liberating story. The liberating story often starts with, “What if?” These stories might recognize that we may not be able to do what we’ve always done, but there are always other things to do. It might not            

be the same kind of Bass, but there are still Bass in the lake worth fishing for.

Greg suggests that congregations take our limiting stories seriously, honestly recognizing our context, our capacity and energy. But then he tells us not to be defined by those stories because sometimes they keep us from seeing new realities that are well within our reach.

One temptation for congregations with rich histories is to define ourselves more by what we used to do than by what we might yet do. It is fun to tell stories about all the fun we’ve had around the lake over the years!

But life is coming at us fast these days for the church. And we are wise when we not only enjoy those fishing stories that are so fun to tell, but also keep our tackle with us. Who knows what we might pull out?!

Shalom, Rick

 

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