UBF Needs Troublemakers
Please cause trouble! A friend sent me this link and I thanked him for paying me the highest compliment: Make Trouble, My Friends. It is a commentary of what Pope Francis said to millions of young people in Argentina last month. The Pope’s exhortation is winning him acclaim as the renegade leader of the world’s largest church. To shake up the church he said, “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes (churches)…or structures.” His final message was, “Don’t forget: Make trouble.” Doesn’t this “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”? I am beginning to love the Pope! I long to hear a senior UBF leader say something like this. This was perhaps David Weed’s dream.
Does the Pope’s exhortation ring true for UBF??? Sometimes I wonder if UBF is more interested in primarily catering to our missionaries and coddling our older UBF leaders, or are we truly focused on winning indigenous people to Christ and truly empowering them (rather than trying to control them, such as by giving them years of “message training,” which has sadly distorted the natural way that they would normally speak in their own native tongue).
Destabilizing the status quo. The church has attracted leaders of the worst kind: megalomanics, bullies and leaders who do not know how to form healthy relationships with their own members (sheep). Such leaders are toxic. They break bruised reeds (Mt 12:20; Isa 42:3) and wound others without apology, while claiming that they are shepherding them. But the church also attracts rebels for Christ’s cause. These latter kinds of people–the trouble makers–are the difference makers whom the Pope seem to be speaking to, for only trouble-makers destabilize the unhealthy status quo.
- Trouble-makers own their own spiritual growth, and do not rely on their church to be the primary place of spiritual formation in their lives.
- Trouble-makers do not wait to be asked by a pastor to use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of others in the Church. They aren’t especially concerned that the graces God gave them to give others may or may not fit on that congregational org chart on a wall in a church leader’s office. They do their level best to respect their leaders’ structures and authority, but they refuse to stop thinking for themselves or silencing the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Trouble-makers are willing to ask and answer hard questions.
- Trouble-makers may not always have perfect manners, but are motivated by love. Love keeps trouble-makers from becoming full-on jerks.
- Trouble-makers recognize that Jesus is not calling them to form self-protective, cozy cliques.
- Trouble-makers worship God, recognizing that adoration is the ultimate act of disruption.
- Trouble-makers ask the Holy Spirit to test their motives. They understand if they have a sense of entitlement or a rush toward self-justification about an issue, they’ve probably veered off course somewhere.
- Trouble-makers understand that transformation – their own and the Bride to whom they belong – always requires more courage than they currently possess. Dependence on God fuels their willingness to disrupt the stale status quo.
Isn’t it beautiful that “adoration is the ultimate act of disruption”? Based on these characteristics, I am prompted to ask some hard questions:
- Does senior UBF leaders welcome trouble-makers, or do they try to silence them?
- Does UBF encourage initiative or do they create a spirit of dependency on UBF?
- Does UBF encourage critical thinking or expect unquestioning submission?
- Do UBF leaders encourage asking hard questions, or to defer to them for answers?
- Are some top UBF leaders too comfortable with their own positions of power and leadership, which they have held for decades and counting?
- Are they in a self-protective oligarchy that seems determined to preserve the status quo?
- Or are they willing to truly entrust authority to indigenous leaders different from them and trust the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:8)?
Have all trouble-makers left UBF (or were forced out)? Is anyone left in UBF who is willing to boldly be a trouble-maker to disrupt the stale status quo? Is leaving UBF the most appealing option for trouble-makers? Do you agree with the Pope that we should make trouble?