honest discussion…

Over the last few days I’ve been challenged by what it means to engage in a discussion, particularly when critiquing a particular organisation or way of doing things.  It seems to me that it’s really important to have honest dialogue taking place in which ‘sacred cows’ are allowed to be dissected, and reassambled or dispersed with as necessary.  Now, I think we can do this with love and respect.

I do get concerned, however, when I see people saying things like “if you don’t like it here, then go somewhere else…”.  Organisations need to engage in honest self-appraisal to ensure that they continue to evolve to meet the challenges of the present day and future rather than relying on the methodology of the past.

A post by headphonaught at somethingbeautifulpodcast models a great way of critiquing something in an affirming way.  He holds up the importance of diversity, valuing the individual contribution of each side of the conversation and yet at the same time challenges us to think about our own preconceptions – both pro- and anti- the specific event.  It helped me to challenge my own somewhat negative view of the event in question, and remember the importance of validating others’ experiences and perspectives.  In this particular case – music.  In others it might be theology…and so on.

Prophetic voices are important – they need to be heard…as do those who dissent from the mainstream.  They shouldn’t be silenced – unless they are particularly unhelpful.  At the same time, the prophetic can learn to communicate in a way that builds up, rather than tears down.  Perhaps it’s more important to ask questions than make confrontational statements.

As for me – well, I’m no longer a Salvo, so in some ways it doesn’t really count what I think.  However, I do carry a deep love for my brothers and sisters (and still feel deeply stirred by brass band music…My Comfort and Strength, The Present Age…etc. etc.!) and especially so for those who are ‘frontline’ in Corps all over the UKT who are being ‘Army’ in ways that meet the context in which they find themselves…with no brass instrument in sight.  Several good friends have asked important questions that should be answered – the “ok, but what difference does this make when you get home?” kind of question that needs to be asked after any great event, be it ISB120 or Soul Survivor.

At the heart of the debate over the future of the Army (or any church) for me is two things – discipleship and mission.  If people are being discipled, then it doesn’t matter what form of music they want to embrace.  Likewise, if brass bands are used to spread the good news of Jesus then that’s awesome.  However, where musical excellence takes precedence over spiritual growth (in any context…not just in ‘t’army…I know plenty of church choirs this could apply to!) and mission takes a back seat to ego-stroking (sitting in our church buildings listening to lovely music), then I think the future looks a little blurry.

So – the challenge for me is to ask myself how I engage in dialogue with those who have different views to mine.  With respect, or seeking to overwhelm them with the rightness of my cause?  A tricky space to inhabit…but then…I like these places of tension, of ‘grey’ rather than black or white…!


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