When I had a study I wished I worked in an office. Now I work in an office and I wish I had a study. (Interesting that I use the verb “work” only in relation to the “office”). I was shy about the “study” because I didn’t think it had the street cred of the offfice. Like many of my peers I referred to my study as the office. Now I find myself fighting for the place of the study in ministry which seems to have less time for it.
In a recent blog post, Sam Charles Norton has some wise words as he contrasts efficient and resilient systems. An efficient system “is one in which each resource is being utilised to the greatest possible extent.” We love efficiency and worship its icon of the (upwardly mobile) graph which is the prerequisite of any office wall. Norton suggests that the Church of England is hell-bent (my words) on a drive towards efficiency which is (mis)-guided by a spirituality “which is based upon a fear that all that seems to be going wrong will continue to go wrong.” According to Norton, we have forgotten what it means to believe in God. “The Church of England will only be saved by those who are not consumed with conviction about how to save it, and who sit lightly at the prospect of the Church of England not being saved – simply because they are utterly committed to the sovereignty of the living God, and they trust in his provision, rather than our own choices.”
A “resilient system” is what the Church of England has been as it “has emphasised the importance of the local and the different, the queer and the inefficient”. Resilient systems have resources within them which enable them to withstand shocks and trauma. These “unexploited” resources aren’t built or stored in offices. That would be too inefficient. Many of our offices stand empty with their enterprise blown away by the latest economic shocks to the system. Offices are only open for business and efficiency. They are closed to resilience and their house is blown down with but one puff.
“Happy are those who delight in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all they do, they prosper.” (Psalm 1).