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Agile Christianity

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By: Scott Matthews

When I think about my spiritual growth, connections to my career as a Software Engineer often came to mind.

Engineering in general is typically guided by following one or more processes to achieve a goal.  Typically you must follow specific steps in order to achieve success.  Each step usually involves a great deal of analysis and documentation before moving on to the next.  This process works until it doesn’t.

I spent most of my youth as a member of a Baptist church in Brooklyn, New York. In my young head the faith I learned was simply summed up as “Do this, this and this or you’re going to hell”.  Really?  Should that be my main motivation for being a good Christian-  to not go to hell?

At church I would often see people giving spontaneous testimonials, jumping up and down in the aisles because they were so filled with the spirit. I often wondered while watching  – “Why is it that I do not have that dedication?  Am I doing enough?”. This was my impression of what it meant to be a devout Christian and it felt like that’s what it should be.

For some people that process worked. For me it didn’t.

There is another approach to software development called Agile development. The agile method promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement.

The premise is that you learn as much as you can, make some effective changes, take stock in how effective or ineffective your changes are, and then build on that.  We tend to find this approach helpful in not only helping to move a project forward faster, but also allowing for the achievement of a deeper learning of the subject matter and then sharing that knowledge with others.

This is where I see the strength of our congregational church. We come together to find God’s goodness – and through that coming together, we can share in the strengths of others to gain better enlightenment in being better Christians, and better people in general.

I don’t think this stops at the doors of this church.  We see God’s goodness everyday and we just have to make sure we are open and ready to hear and see that lesson in a day to day setting.  I’ve learned more about patience in all walks of my life since I became a parent.  I’ve also learned more about loving others more since becoming a parent. I feel I learn a lot about humility and the need for generosity when I have an opportunity to give to others in need. That lesson comes whether I take that opportunity and feel good, or neglect to take it and feel some degree of remorse.

The reward of finding God’s goodness lies in a better journey, not a better carrot (so to speak).  Sort of how the primary joy of a nice day hike is not really making it to a certain geographic end point, but rather experiencing all that is around you on the way to getting there.

We each may not have the the right answers.  Reverend Allen, as learned and good at his job as he is, may not have all the answers. But working together, and seeing the potential in others, we can find that path together.  And through that process of communicating with others, figuring out things with others, we’ll gain even more enlightenment. I kind of like to see it as a way for us to allow God to have another conduit to us, allowing ourselves to see him speak to us through others.