Keller on Movements

Tim Keller writes:

A movement is marked by an attractive, clear, unifying vision for the future together with a strong set of values or beliefs. The content of the vision must be compelling and clear so that others can grasp it readily.

He then mentions four effects of a compelling and clear vision:

First, the vision leads to sacrificial commitment….

Second, the vision leads to generous flexibility….

Third, the vision leads to innovativeness….

Finally, a movement is marked by spontaneous generativity….Denominations or church networks that always have to recruit ministers and staff that were raised up in other environments, and that attract them mainly with good compensation, do not show signs of being a movement.

His conclusion:

A strong movement, then, occupies the difficult space between being a free-wheeling organism and a disciplined organization. A movement that refuses to take on some organizational characteristics – authority, tradition, unity of belief, and quality control — will fragment and dissipate. A movement that does not also resist the inevitable tendency toward complete institutionalization will lose its vitality and effectiveness as well. The job of the movement leader is to steer the ship safely between these two opposite perils.

Earlier today, an acquaintance remarked that it seems like I print every blog post I read. “Not true” I retorted. “But Keller’s an exception: Most of what he writes online is worthy of print and further reflection, making notes and underlining throughout.” Read Keller’s thoughts on movements here (and feel free to print it out!).

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