Radical Reform

Common Blog Themes:

Reforming Education 

Reforming the Church 

Reforming Me (with other stuff mixed in here and there)

My mission is to do what I can to raise up a free and fruitful generation through radical reform.

Let me be absolutely clear up front. The freedom that I speak of is only found in Christ and His Spirit, and the fruit to which I refer (love, joy, peace, etc.) is also from that same Spirit. Therefore, fundamentally, my hope is to see people connected to God's Spirit by following Jesus.

With that as the foundation, though, there is an enormous human effort that I believe must take place to radically reform our institutions of learning and faith. In particular, this blog will mostly focus on what we can do to revolutionize our churches and schools. (Of course, that will often mean addressing other related topics, such as politics, history, economics, entertainment, etc.)

What is Radical Reform?

The word radical actually means "of or going to the root." Think fundamental. This is the idea that I have in mind when I say we need to reform organized religion or education practices in our schools. It is about returning to the origin, or the first intent. "Radical" is too often confused with "extreme." While some radical innovations may be perceived as extreme, the real questions before us need to be focused on why ways of doing things were created in the first place. What do we fundamentally hope to accomplish? Will these ways get us there?

The definition of reform is "to form again; the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc.", or "to change to a better state, form." Nothing could be a better vision for how we "do church" or "do school" than to right the parts that are wrong. This, however, requires taking the step of identifying what is corrupt or unsatisfactory in the first place.

Radical reform, then, is returning something to its original design or purpose. With the church, that's easy. It means returning to the first expressions of church, faith, and discipleship under the authority of Jesus Christ. With education, it is a little more difficult. The blog posts will have to flesh that out over time.

Why is Radical Reform necessary?

Western Christianity and the American public education system are two giants influencing our society and developing our next generation. No other vehicles may do more to shape the hearts and minds of young people growing up in our culture.

To make something qualitatively better, it must be substantially different. To elaborate, if you want something to significantly be of a better quality, then there must be a serious change to its substance. This axiom is what the modern movements of church growth and school improvement have failed to realize, or worse yet, ignored by choice.

Principles of Radical Reform

1. The Way of the Whiteboard: It is often necessary to "erase the whiteboard" and start over with a fresh perspective, especially on topics that have become so familiar. Then, only add things to the whiteboard that are obvious and clear ("non-negotiable"), items that you would be comfortable being dogmatic about. This, in turn, leads to a follow-up principle, which is that it might be wise to be slow and careful in the process of adding items. (In recent months, I have used this approach with subjects like discipleship, baptism, what Jesus says about church, assessments and grading in school, and it has been incredibly eye-opening each time. It is even more powerful when the process is carried out with a group of people.)
Implication: More dangerous than the unanswered questions are the unquestioned answers! Everything is fair game to be challenged. Sometimes, it is necessary to UN-learn some things in order to learn others.

2. Focus vs. Fear: Institutions and individuals have a tendency to work to avoid fears of potential negative outcomes rather than staying directly focused on desired positive outcomes. They become overwhelmed by a world of "what ifs" until they are paralyzed and stagnant. Fear of the unfamiliar keeps too many of us frozen in mediocrity. Radical reform cannot occur in a "scared environment." Experience bears out that most people who pay too much attention to what they don't want to become end up becoming exactly that. The point is simple: Don't keep your eyes on a target you don't want to hit! (If you want to test this theory, ask a leader of an organization - pastor, principal, employer, teacher, etc. - why their organization decided to do ___ (whatever policy or practice) and listen to their answer. You will be able to tell quickly whether it was decided based on focus or fear.) 
Implication: The key to growth or victory is changing your perspective from what you might lose to what you might gain! Boldly mark out your target and stand on the reasons for it, and fire away.

3. New life only comes after death: Each person is only able to live one life at a time. A born again experience comes at the expense of an old life. New life is not a supplement to one's former self, but its replacement.