Voices from the Middle

By Ben Cachiaras

Contemporary examples to demonstrate the value of “and.”

Jim Collins coined the phrase “embrace the and” in his 1994 book Built to Last. He and coauthor Jerry Porras reported on extensive studies at Stanford University School of Business revealing best practices of exceptional companies. One such trait among enduringly great companies was their ability to embrace the “and.”

The authors’ point was that choosing between seemingly contradictory concepts—focusing on this or that—leads to missed opportunities. Is the product low cost or high quality? Do I focus on short-term opportunities or long-term strategy? Should the company be bold or conservative? Collins and Porras discovered a key trait among perennially successful companies was their ability to embrace the positive aspects of both sides of a dichotomy. Rather than choosing, they find a way to have both, “to have both A and B,” instead of choosing one or the other.

Dave Ferguson of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, applies the “genius of the and” to many practical church leadership issues. For example, CCC wants to reproduce leaders and campuses quickly AND maintain consistent quality at all campuses. Similarly, more and more churches are not choosing between investing in multisite or church planting. “Instead,” Ferguson says, “the most innovative churches are choosing the ‘Genius of the AND’ by doing both multisite AND church planting! I love it!”

06_Cach-sidebar_JNHugh Halter and Matt Smay encourage churches to move beyond the attractional vs. missional divide. The biblical balance is found, they say, when we scatter in incarnational communities while providing gathered structures that hold it all together. Their book, published by Exponential, captures the thrust: AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church.

Jim Wallis, Christian writer and political activist, says we need to move beyond labels of liberal and conservative to a new paradigm he calls a conservative radical. Rooted in conservative values, we can be radical enough to apply those values in the real world. As examples, he names Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dietrich Bonhoeffer—three people who lived out conservative values in a way that made them radicals.

Adam Hamilton calls for a new reformation that lives in the sweet spot between the seemingly opposite ideas of grace and holiness, faith and works, legalism and libertinism. As the pastor of a 14,000-member United Methodist Church, Hamilton deeply longs to hold together the best of conservative Evangelicalism and its high view of the Bible along with the best of those traditions that have cared more about social action and a holistic gospel. He has published Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics (see review on page 21).

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See the main article, ‘Shades of Gray: Pursuing the Radical Center”

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