Television shows tend to be formulaic. Meaning, every episode will follow a similar pattern. And even though the pattern is repeated over and over again, and is incredibly overt, people tune in and watch. Some folks watch these shows knowing and anticipating the pattern. After all, you got to watch something right? And these shows are distracting enough for what they are. Other people watch these shows in hopeful expectation that there might be a twist in the pattern, even though there never was one before.
I have seen the show House maybe three times most of the way through, but my observation of the pattern of this show is confirmed by The Simpsons. (And we all know that The Simpsons are an accurate reflection of Americana. Well, they are sort of, and this proves my point so I’ll use it.) Anyway, in a scene where Lisa is watching television and Bart wants to watch television she says, “Ugh, Bart, please! I’m trying to hear Dr. House’s third incorrect diagnosis before his final correct diagnosis!” That is the pattern of the show House. He makes three diagnoses and tries three solutions until he makes his fourth and correct diagnosis and enacts the correct solution and it works.
What does this have to do with Regeneration? Well, until House accurately accesses the situation his solutions don’t work. They are perfectly good solutions, as long as they applied to the right situations, but such good solutions could even make the situation worse if the original diagnosis is wrong. In general, it has been my experience that organized presentations such as conferences or summits tend to focus on one of two things: theory or practice. Some focus only on theory (fewer these days) which would be like Dr. House making a diagnosis but never applying the correct solution. If Dr. House stayed in the theory alone, his patients would die.
Other presentations focus on the solutions alone (these are more common these days, likely in reaction to “diagnosis only” gatherings). The problem with these gatherings is that they are all practice. The diagnoses are assumed and the solutions are shots in the dark that could even make things worse. If Dr. House just applied solutions with diagnosing his patients, his patients wouldn’t just die, he might kill them.
Many of us are stuck in the formula of these solution-only, that is, practice only gatherings when it comes to Church life. And we go to these things and listen to all the solutions, and just like watching formulaic television shows, we habitually try these solutions because it is better than doing nothing. Or, we try the new what’s hot solutions hoping that there would finally be a twist in the pattern. But it’s a formula, and there is no twist.
Regeneration is a small step towards bridging the gap between diagnosis and solution, between theory and practice in the Church. Regeneration is a praxis lab. We wrestle through coming to correct diagnoses and applicable solutions together, in community. Because if you don’t really know exactly what it is that you are applying solutions to, how can you know that the solution will work or not make it even worse?
The next Regeneration Summit happens September 23, 2013 in St. Louis. For more info check out this link. Look for more posts here soon about the topic and structure of the Regen Summit.