In his book, A Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman wrote that in a chronically anxious society people choose safety over adventure. I believe we are living in a chronically anxious society. Our political and social divisions reflect that.
One casualty of this chronic anxiety is that church leaders have been paralyzed by the church’s steady decline in impact and effectiveness over the last several decades. In many, if not most cases, this leads us to choose safety over adventure.
The 12-step community describes the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Clinging to safety does this.
So how do we get unstuck?
In, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, Peter Sims shows the value of taking small, experimental steps in making breakthrough innovations. Little bets are small experiments that can create movement and direction in the church. They also provide important learnings from little failures and from small, but significant wins.
In a recent video, I shared that the best way to approach any big task is to think big and act small. Little bets facilitate this without knowing the end result. That’s the spirit of adventure.
Imagine walking into the Stress Factory, a small comedy club in New Jersey and stumbling upon Chris Rock. It’s possible. Sims shares how Rock appears periodically to try out new material. What’s interesting is he sits on a stool and reads each new joke without emotion or body language. He’s testing the material, not his delivery. Using this process, Rock takes six months to a year to develop a new routine.
What I find ironic is that the secular world has discovered this approach when people of faith are stuck. To me, trusting God requires a spirit of adventure. God can work with you if you’re moving, especially in small steps. God can give you discernment and direction. God can’t do anything with you if you’re stuck.
Which will you choose?