Obsolete skills

/ 21 February 2008

In Monday night’s version of my class, we were talking about the difference between technical challenges and adaptive challenges, and hence the implications for pastoral leadership. One key implication, from my perspective at least, is that we need to be working on adaptive responses far more deeply than simple technical skills. When I came upon this website, I was struck by that implication again — because here is a list of obsolete skills (in the technology realm).

I wonder what the corresponding pastoral version of this list would be? Maybe things like: constructing felt board versions of bible stories, mimeographing bulletins, etc. Of course, there are a few skills that I, personally, would like to see become obsolete -- but my hunch is that there are many other people who would mourn their passing! (On that list, things like: concocting 100 varieties of green jello salad, using styrofoam cups for coffee, etc.).

Ultimately, however, in all seriousness, THE technical skill I'd most like to see become obsolete is that of strengthening one's own identity by creating "others" out of different communities. We do far too much of that in Christian contexts. Instead, I'd like to see us learn to build deep Christian identity in ways that resources our engagement with other communities, with other identities, that allows us to be centered enough to be open and generous and humble.