Principles for 21st Century Ministry

Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab has published some thinking about Principles for 21st Century thinking, which has brought me to think more carefully about the way in which I am trying and failing in parish ministry and most importantly missional practice. Some of these principles map directly into ways in which I/we should be doing ministry and mission in new contexts and I think I need to dwell on these deeply. Much of it means unpicking the notion of self in ministry, and my own ego which so often gets in the way of the work of God.

The principles are these:

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  1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
  2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
  3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
  4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
  5. You want to have good compasses not maps.
  6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
  7. It’s disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
  8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.
  9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.

I’m going to contemplate this over Holy Week.

Of particular resonance to me is (1) about allowing failure (2) not being the fount of all knowledge and activity in the parish (6) the mystery of God and his sacramental signs (7) nobody really knows how mission works and what works in West London doesn’t work here in North East Plymouth (8) ekklesia (9) shared journey of faith

Your thoughts appreciated.