29 November 2008

Pigs and chickens

This post is sort of a follow-on to my last one. It's a bit more on the organizational structures that I'm seeing emerge in both my day job and my church world (and how much they have in common), and it also explains why the comic strip at the top of my last post starred a pig and a chicken. In case you were wondering.

There's a software development methodology called Scrum. It's named after a play in rugby matches. I like it. I believe it works well, in some contexts. It's possible that some of those contexts have nothing to do with software development.

One Scrum concept is the idea of "pigs and chickens". The idea comes from this joke:

A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The chicken looks at the pig and says, "Hey, why don't we open a restaurant?" The pig looks back at the chicken and says, "Good idea, what do you want to call it?" The chicken thinks about it and says, "Why don't we call it 'Ham and Eggs'?" "I don't think so," says the pig, "I'd be committed but you'd only be involved."

I've been reflecting on this in relation to church polity/leadership issues, and have come up with some tentative thoughts.

The first thought has to do with why I'm a dyed-in-the-wool congregationalist. I've long known that I feel strongly that church congregations ought to have very broad freedom in determining just about everything for themselves. One reason why I feel this way is this: the folks in the local congregation are "pigs", when it comes to issues of worship, leadership, ministry, discipleship, mission, etc. for that congregation in particular. Bishops, presbyteries, external trustees, denominational executives - anyone who aren't active members of the congregation - are inevitably chickens. And, well - screw you, alls y'all chickens. Not that I don't want to hear your voice - I do. You're welcome to be "involved". But the reality is you're only involved. The people living this thing every day are (hopefully) committed.

My next thought has to do with one reason I'm not a fan of "lay"/"clergy" distinctions. Take a congregation of 100 people. Let's say three of them are full-time paid clergy, and the rest are lay people. Three people (who happen to be the folks expected to lead this thing) are depending on everybody else for their livelihood, to put food on their family's table, not to mention their sense of vocation. They have a very vested interest in leading the congregation in such a way that ensures said food keeps heading toward said table. As for everybody else - well, they'll keep participating as long as it makes sense to them to do so. Now who's pigs, and who's chickens?

I'm just a big believer in two things, I guess: power to the pigs - and everybody in the barnyard is invited to put their bacon on the table.

photo by Kevin Hutchinson (rights)

1 comment:

Rachel said...

As one who runs with the chickens, your words are certainly food for thought.

Looking forward to meeting you.