"Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic," Seth says.Seth's post works out some implications for marketers and educators. I think his analysis speaks to us in the faith community, as well.
In its institutional form, the church would lean toward the farming side. And not just metaphorically, even though Jesus used a lot of agricultural images talking to people who grew olives and figs, tended sheep, and netted fish.
The institution's role is to plant the seed of the Gospel and be concerned with ensuring a continued crop of new believers. It has to worry about the cultural weather and make smart choices about the strategies and tactics it will use to do so. That is a holy and valuable work for the kingdom, and I support it.
As Seth notes, it's not crazy to think that not everyone approaches their faith as a farmer. Institutions tend to forge hammers and then start looking at everyone and everything as a nail. Seth uses an example from education -- "medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn't make a lot of sense" -- but governments, non-profits and churches do the same.
There are many people who approach faith and their relationship with the Holy as hunters (a better term than seekers, I think, because most people I know in this category are driven in this regard). We scan our environment looking for the places and people and events in which the Spirit is active, not just for truths and ideas about God. When we find those spaces we can drop everything to "pounce" -- to explore what the Spirit is up to and join in. We may not be as good at tilling the fields of religious life, listening to sermons waiting for God to speak (which Brian McLaren points out is a spiritual discipline), serving on committees, perpetuating institutions.
The question is: Does the church look at "hunters" as a problem or an opportunity?
It occurs to me that this is what we are trying to do at Kairos Community. We're trying hard to be open to those who are watching and waiting and noticing and want to embrace the movements of the Spirit even if they don't buy the whole package. We serve side by side, people who "believe" and those who balk, and share our journeys and honor those that are not explicitly Christian as well as those that are. We're hunters and farmers. And we want to sharpen the hunter skills, to foster our awareness of how God is working in and around us every day, and learn to appreciate those moments of distracted noticing and movements of the Spirit amid daily life.
Many institutions are farmers. Think on these examples from Seth's post:
- Farmers don't dislike technology. They dislike failure. Technology that works is a boon.
- Farmers prefer productive meetings, hunters want to simply try stuff and see what happens.
- Hunters want a high-stakes mission, farmers want to avoid epic failure.
- A farmer often relies on other farmers in her peer group to be sure a purchase is riskless.
- The last hundred years of our economy favored smart farmers. It seems as though the next hundred are going to belong to the persistent hunters able to stick with it for the long haul.