Saturday, January 14, 2012

What TEC could take from TED


Do you know about the "TED Conference?" Here's the Wikipedia definition:
TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading."
And the TED mission statement begins:
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
The TED website sums it up with this intriguing tagline:
Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world
Which leads me to musing: What if TEC studied what makes TED "work" as we reimagine our structures, reinvent our communications and recommit ourselves to our mission "to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ."

It's something I've been mulling for awhile -- the connection between TED and TEC -- and then today ... doing some websurfing, facebook cruising over a second cup of Saturday morning coffee ... I came across this blog post by marketer Seth Godin:
The TED imperatives

1. Be interested.
2. Be generous.
3. Be interesting.
4. Connect.

In that order. If all you can do is repeat cocktail party banalities about yourself, don't come. If all you're hoping for is to get more than you give, the annual event is not worth your time. If you're not confident enough to share what you're afraid of and what's not working, you're cheating yourself (and us). These aren't just principles for TED, of course. They're valid guidelines for any time you choose to stop hiding and step out into the world.

[TED is a conference that started small, got big and then spawned more than a thousand local versions. Mostly, it's a culture of connecting interesting ideas and the people who have the guts to share them. Sometimes people at TED even follow these imperatives].
"These aren't just principles for TED, of course. They're valid guidelines for any time you choose to stop hiding and step out into the world."

That's where I had what my rector Ed Bacon would call a "glory attack" ... because for each TED imperative I heard a TEC baptismal promise:
Be interested. ["Seek and serve Christ in all persons ..."]
Be generous. ["... loving your neighbor as yourself."]
Be interesting. ["Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ."]
Connect. ["continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers."]
On Episcopal Cafe this week there's a blog post attracting lots of comments. It's entitled "Why should there be an Episcopal Church?" and asks the question:
What makes us different? What is the place and role of the Episcopal Church in this wider world we call The Church?
Of course I had an response. Mine was:
We are a particular (some would say peculiar) people of God who have the DNA of comprehensiveness coursing through our veins. Our "Mother Church" managed to emerge from the crucible of the reformation in England with the unique ability to hold being both protestant and catholic in tension -- and then the democratization of that Anglican ethos following the American Revolution introduced both the gift and challenge of the tension between the ministry of clergy and laity for the American Episcopal Church.

At our best I believe we are uniquely (please do not read "exclusively") gifted by our history to model unity rather than uniformity as a way of being church in the world -- and in our increasingly multi-cultural, inter-faith, global context we have the capacity offer that model as an alternative to the divisiveness of polarization and exceptionalism that is too often the face of "the Church in the world."
So my question today is this:

If I'm right and the Episcopal Church (TEC) does have something distinctive to offer "the wider world" then how can we equip and empower ourselves to embrace a TED-like culture of connecting those ideas and being a people who have the guts to share them?

4 comments:

Eric Funston said...

Would you mind terribly if I made this my sermon tomorrow at our Annual Parish Meeting eucharist?

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

You're kidding, right??? Quote away ...

Gretchen said...

I think you are doing just that! It is our strength to live and love in the tension of Word and Sacrament - Idea and Formative Ritual that can be transformative! Thank you.

Andrew Downs said...

A big part of TED are those amazing talks we see online. Well-researched, provocative talks that make you curious about something you might know nothing about. If we are to create a TED-like culture, we will need to not only be a place that embraces fresh expressions, but one that is less defensive of the status quo. We must engage these conversations honestly rather than protectively. Several of the recent Episcopal Cafe conversations have been enlightening to me because of their defensiveness rather than a spirit of honest appraisal.

Drew Downs