Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pizza, Prayer and Leadership

Ate at John's Pizzeria in New York City, just off Times Square this week. My wife and I were on a short vacation to the Big Apple while Grandma watched Hudson, before baby #2 (name and sex TBD) arrives on the Marshall scene.

Many hail it as the best pizza in NYC. I'm not one to argue, it was pretty freakin' good.

What interested me more was the setting. It used to be home to the Gospel Tabernacle Church, led by AB Simpson in the 1880's. Stained glass and an balcony grace the open and airy setting--lending a sort of 'heavenly feel' to the place. Who knows, maybe the heavenly taste is a physical manifestation of metaphysical realities?

The place is beautiful. And that got me thinking: This used to be a place of worship, and now it's a pizzeria (discussions of the eschaton as a wonderful meal notwithstanding), why? I'm sure wonderful things happened during it's former incarnation. Lives were transformed. People lifted out of destructive lifestyles. Families restored. In fact, AB started the place to reach "the neglected peoples of the world with the neglected resources of the church." But now, a 100 years+ later, the only vestiges of the ministry I can see is the pizza pie gloriously gracing my table.

Is this okay? What can we learn from this? Here's my short working list. What do you think?
  • Leadership is about the next generation. Transformation is as much about future generations as it is about our generation. We've lost the sense that our children to come will inherit our work of today. Evidence? I don't hear this topic in books or seminars. We are very moment centric (how though, to reconcile with Jesus'--"tomorrow has enough trouble of its own."??)
  • Building a ministry to last for a 100 years must be different than building it to last my lifetime. Is that what we are to be about? Deep roots into the past, strong presence in the present, long reach into the future? How do we prepare for this without getting in touch with the past?
  • Sometimes its okay for a thing not to last. In fact, maybe this is necessary. Is wisdom the difference? For instance, Nyack College and the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church are still functioning parts of his legacy.
  • I'm thinking of changing my name to SW Marshall. It just sounds so impressive.

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