Friday, April 27, 2007


One to a Pigeonhole, Please

Eric Bryant, he of the life-changing invitation to visit Mosaic, wrote an interesting post about how churches don't reach out to intuitive people. This is based on something called the Myers-Briggs something or other. I took it once, years ago, but have forgotten the details. It's a sort of inventory of personal characteristics, and apparently most folks come out as "sensing." A quarter of the general population is "intuitive." I suspect I'm in that subset because I seldom fit in anywhere.

Eric says that 95% of churches are set up to reach the "sensing" folks. I'd believe that, too, because if I don't fit in the world at large I really don't fit in churches.

Still, I have a hard time buying the whole concept. As a culture we are far too eager to assign people to pigeonholes and God's hardest task is winkling us out of those assigned niches. It starts the moment one is born. Well, now it happens even before you're born: "Are you having a girl or a boy?" "Oh, it's a boy. The ultrasound showed that clearly." So, the baby room gets done up in blue and the parents stock up on toy trucks and baseball mitts. What if the child really likes yellow? Or, God forbid, purple?

I'm sick of the whole thing. How much potential in our society is simply thrown away, cut off by institutional biases?

Churches probably do need intuitive people. The way I see this, sensing people walk up and down the valleys and mountains, treading each rock. If you need detail this is the way to go. Intuitives, however, seem to get the patterns, and simply leap from one spot to the next, kind of like a spiritual hyperspace.

Perhaps it's like sand sculpture. I have to embody both detail and pattern: detail in the engineering enables the overall pattern to remain standing at the end of the day. A church built of detailed words is sturdy, but what of the ones who want to fly?

All I really know is that churches feel like a straitjacket to me. God has a name for me, and that's the name I want. Its first syllable is "forgiven," and this is something that most churches seem not to get; they crucify Jesus anew each Sunday, quaking in fear that this time they'll be thrown away. Folks, it won't happen. One who is in Christ is forgiven. Done.

Perhaps it's the intuitive point of view: I know, I feel, the gulf between God and me that Jesus bridged. I see it below my feet, between God's fingers. I like God's name for me. The process of learning it is difficult but doable because He cares. How do you put caring on an intellectually justified basis? I don't know. It's irrational, at least in human terms. Fortunately God's rationality is something else.

So, I guess the real question is, how do you make a church for people who don't fit and don't really want to fit? It'll be interesting to see if Eric and his church-planting friends come up with an answer for this. I have no idea. First Church of Jesus, Intuitive, anyone?

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(edited to fix typo)

Did you know that people can grow melons and gourds in different shapes? The trick is to put it into a mold while it's still growing. After it reaches a certain point, it has no choice but to grow in the shape you want it. It will continue to grow of course, but only in the directions that the mold allows it to.

One of the difficulties I have in my own life is getting out of the mold people keep trying to put me into. While I'm not saying one should go unrestrained or without guidance, I am saying that we limit ourselves by letting others decide the world for us.

Have you seen someone enjoying nature? Have you heard a heartfelt prayer? Imagine how much beauty we'd see if we walked only the same path day after day, or if when talking to God read out of s script instead of from the heart. Imagine too how God would feel about such a thing, millions of voices in prayer, each saying the same thing in the same words. Imagine how he'd feel if your entire world was just that one path? Did he not make food in many flavors and textures? The world he created is full of variety, but unified in splendor.
Hi Larry. How funny that you mentioned the Myers Briggs, I was just talking with someone about it last night. I am also an "N" (intuitive) so if you start a church for our "type" let me know.

I think there is some value in these "temperament" tests when taken in a work or team environment to assist people in understanding why one form of communication (or appreciation or instruction or whatever) works for some but not others. For the rest of life there's a lot of grace needed.

Spoken like a true Intuitive, Larry!
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