This might seem like a stretch today, but I really want you to come along with me for just a few minutes. I want to talk with you about grouplife agnostics and the adjacent possible.
With me? Here goes.
First a couple definitions:
GroupLife Agnostics: I use this term to describe small group ministry practitioners whose worldview keeps them from seeing anything other than the way they’ve seen grouplife work or the reality they are comfortable with. For example, they’ve only seen an apprentice leader become a leader and because they’ve never seen it any other way, they can’t even imagine another scenario.
Adjacent Possible: A theory developed by scientist Stuart Kauffman, “The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways the present can reinvent itself (p. 31, Where Good Ideas Come From).” See Where Do You Want to Go with Your Small Group Ministry.
Second, a little meat to chew on:
One of my favorite Frederick Buechner quotes is from Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC. Describing an agnostic, Buechner writes:
An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t know for sure whether there really is a God. That is some people all of the time and all people some of the time.
There are some agnostics who don’t know simply because they’ve never taken pains to try to find out–like the bear who didn’t know what was on the other side of the mountain.
There are other agnostics who have taken many pains. They have climbed over the mountain, and what do you think they saw? Only the other side of the mountain. At least that was all they could be sure of. That faint glimmer on the far horizon could have been just Disneyland.
So…it follows that a grouplife agnostic might have just never taken pains to find out if there’s another way. Or, they might have taken great pains and just can’t see it. Instead…they wonder if that faint glimmer might just be Disneyland.
Somewhere, just on the edges of the present state of your small group ministry, there is an idea that might open the door to an entirely different outcome. It is the adjacent possible. It is where grouplink and the small group connection were found. It is where video driven curriculum was found (by the way, it is also where easy-t0-use curriculum was found by Lyman Coleman). It is where the church-wide campaign and the HOST strategy were discovered.
The adjacent possible. You can ignore it. You can overlook it. You can even call it a pipe dream. But if you want in on all that’s possible, you’ve got to be willing to work close the edges.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
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