This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Let the Dogs Smell the Hat.

            When babies are born, I understand that often the hospital gives them little caps to keep their heads warm.  I friend of mine’s daughter just had her first child.  The family also happens to have two dogs at home.  In order to facilitate the dogs’ good reception of the new person in the home, a nurse recommended that they let the dogs smell the baby’s hat beforehand.  Then when the baby came, the dogs would recognize the scent and not think of this as an intruder.  Good advice for a family receiving a new life into their midst. 
            I suspect it is good advice for churches as well.  If a church is going to receive new life (the baby), one big danger comes from those in the congregation who will dig in their heels to oppose it (the dogs).   To counteract this reaction, perhaps a good strategy would be to “let the dogs smell the hat.” 
            That is, to bring to possible opponents of the change some evidence that the change is good, and is indeed inevitable, so they are not surprised by it and can prepare themselves to receive it.  Then, when the change does come, they will recognize it.  Maybe they will even see the continuity with what has gone on before, and realize that this is the future.  Perhaps they will also understand that to oppose this change will be perceived as a fundamental threat to the community, and that if it comes down to a choice between them and this incoming change, they may find themselves in a different home, if not the municipal animal shelter.
            If only all church members showed the same loyalty and intelligence to welcome and rejoice in changes that the group is clearly enthusiastic about, rather than embark upon obstructive and sabotaging tactics that will undermine the integrity and future of the whole system.  In this latter case, we sometimes see a nihilistic death wish on the part of some, where they appear to feel it would be better for the system to perish than for the change to be enacted.  When to dogs treat the baby as a malevolent intruder, or try and eat the baby, then you have to have a system strong enough to remove the dogs from the system.
            When you let the dogs smell the hat you are communicating the message: this is what’s coming.  It will probably inconvenience you, disrupting the routine to which you have become accustomed.  However, this family needs a future and this is what it smells like.  We would love it if you would be on board with this change.  If, however, you decide that this change and this future are not for you, we will precipitously facilitate a change of residence for you.  There is no compromise or wiggle-room on this. 
            In other words, inevitable changes are coming into this family.  You get to pick which you want to deal with: new baby in the home, or a new home for you.           


1 comment:

BoomerChef said...

A great analogy, Paul - if only it could be facilitated in churches. I am experiencing two congregations - one seeking new members so "our church" can continue; the other seeking new members so the love of Christ can be shared with them. Guess which congregation will be here ten years from now.