For a better church, you are going to need better followers of Jesus. And while I do not want to ignore the fact of community, we need to turn the gaze inward first, before we start to put the blame on how others are inadequate.
I've been on a bit of rant and rave lately, thinking about the critics who love to complain and put the blame everywhere but on themselves. In a post a few days ago (What is Wrong With the Church: Dear Sirs...) I mentioned that this is bad psychology, spirituality, theology, etc. Here are the insights of a few others on this issue:
You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful. Marie Curie
I like this word from Marie Curie quite a bit. If you don't like something you are a part of, then get to work to make it better… but first, make sure you are becoming a better person yourself. If that (you becoming a better person) doesn't happen, it is doubtful that you will be able to make a better world (or church, or team, or mission, or organization).
Huxley, in the same vein, had this to say:
I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.
And for every one who has worked very hard to change your "self" you know how hard it was/is just to change your self... Now, think about trying to change an entire organization of "selves!" That is a whole lot harder.
And how about this thought from Erich Fromm.
Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself.
I don't think I go quite as far as to say this is THE main task in life, but it sure does rank pretty high and deserves a spot on the short list.
Neither Curie, Huxley or Fromm are talking about a narcissistic self-centered preoccupation with one's self that ignores community. They are describing the Brute Fact - that if any external, organizational change is to happen, it is launched from within, by changed individuals.
My friend Brian Newman talks about the need to move from Critic to Contributor. I think a huge part of that process is the journey of self-awareness and personal development of one's inner world.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International