Unfair Park has a nice blog post up, recapping how the whole Winfrey Point saga started. I find it an interesting read, though of course, it’s heavily opinionated. The key point is that City Hall has its decision making process out of order. They hire consultants, come up with some plans, and then present it to the community. Why not go to the community first?
The battle over building a parking lot for the Dallas Arboretum at Winfrey Point is absolutely parallel and of a fabric with recent battles over community gardens and neighborhood farmers markets. All anybody at City Hall ever had to do was just walk out of City Hall one time, one day, just go outdoors, and they would have seen an overwhelming cultural trend in favor of safe food, community gardens and farmers markets, not to mention a reverence for open park land not sullied by concrete.
I found it fascinating because I think lots of faith communities do it like this too. We look around and find out what is popular at other churches and think – hey, we should do that too. Then, we train people, buy stuff, and setup some marketing… and never at any point actually go out in the community and see if people need it. Then we wonder why lots of folks don’t ever make it to church.
I loved a recent Think conversation that I caught a few days back. Author, Tom Kelley, talked about the process of innovation. He pointed out how the first step in good innovation, creating a product or service that would improve people’s lives, is anthropology, getting out and observing people and their processes. When you discover a problem or a need, then you begin to come up with solutions and see what you can do to make a difference in someone’s life.
I dig it.
In fact, next week, I am going to try to setup a video conversation with one of our members, John Ogren, on his missional church research project about starting new faith communities with input at the very beginning from neighbors. Stay tuned for that.
The key for the church (and City Hall… and anybody) – listen first.