Just a Single Data Point

It’s always a little bit frightening (read ‘scary’, ‘nerve-wracking’) to “discover”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/60#comments you are being read, and then that you are being “taken at least somewhat seriously”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/60#comment-108 (but then again, isn’t that exactly part of _why_ we write?). Frankly, I find this fact to be both humbling and gratifying at the same time — humbling in that my thoughts are being shared and my words being read and that they are having some sort of impact on the world around me, and gratifying in that this fire to write is being satisfied, that there is discourse to be had about the things that interest me, and that God is using this to (hopefully) further His Kingdom.

I think that what I find so frightening about actually affecting others with my writing is two-fold. First, there is always the fear that my thinking is incorrect. This is part of why I write, though, to share my thoughts and to let other people try to punch holes in them as best as they can. How can I ever grow in my philosophy, theology, and ideology if I am never challenged to defend them? And what cannot be defended should be looked closely to determine why it cannot be defended. In the process the chaff is discarded and what is left is a pile of golden nuggets of truth. I just fear, sometimes, that in this process of discourse I will inadvertantly steer someone wrong. I can only hope that others are seeking truth in much the same way I am and that they will also critically analyze everything with hopes of filtering out the junk.

The other fear that niggles at the back of my brain is the recognition that not everyone recognizes the fact that a person’s individual writings are, generally, representative only of that individual. They are but a single data point in the entire population and should be analyzed as such. For instance, while I “believe”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/60 that worship is probably best placed at the end of a church service, not everyone is going to feel that way (hence my suggestion to mix it up). My opinion may, in fact, be in the minority, since a lot of people don’t like to deviate from tradition. My point is simply that I fear someone may read my thoughts (sounds a little bit ESPish, doesn’t it?) and ascertain from them that this is the general consensus of the population, when, in fact, I am typically just tossing out an alternative idea. (Don’t get me wrong, “cindy”:http://www.cindybryan.com — I’m not worried that you have fallen prey to this error. Your comment just reminded me of this little brain-niggler.)

These fears are probably actually a good thing, to an extent. They force me to be careful in my writing, to really think through my arguments and make sure I spell them out as clearly as I can. And then I share them and wait for the feedback that helps me shape these thoughts in an ever-better perspective. We can learn from each other, and _that_ is the real reason why I write.

3 thoughts on “Just a Single Data Point”

  1. Jim- I’m glad you’re not worried! Keep throwing ideas out there. The truth is, that neither I nor many others have the single authority (nor strength of will as in my case) to cause real change in our church’s worship structure. In most churches I know of, unfortunately, things like worship order are such a sacred cow, yes- idol, that it takes the mountain moving kind of faith and effort to get them changed. My husband and I lead music in the smaller of 2 services at a small (300 mbr), mostly rural church. The worship service we’re involved in is less structured than the later traditional service. Even so, I often feel frustrated, disappointed, and maybe saddened by our/my tendency to fall into the rut of convenience and habit rather than listening to the inclinations of the Spirit. There’s a balance between reverence, structure, openness, and free spirited worship (even in a mainline protestant church) that can and should be sought. It’s just mighty hard to maintain the kind of intentional flexibility that rightly positions us to hear the voice of God. Keep up the good thoughts. We all need to be stirred out of complacency- on a regular basis.

  2. I think that the inflexibility you describe is a problem in almost all churches. We tend to become so ingrained in a certain way of doing things that we start to think it is all biblically mandated, where in most cases it is simply a church preference. Change doesn’t come easy for most people, and it usually takes a long time to change even the simplest of things in a church Body. I think this is part of why the emergent church movement has gained so much momentum in recent years (something which I want to research more and write about in the very near future). There is acknowledgement in some circles that the way we do church currently leaves something to be desired, but I have to wonder if the reaction actually solves any of these problems. Anyway, something to think and write about more later…

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