Recently, I’ve heard a lot of talk about platforms and movements. We see it often in the entertainment business, sports and politics. It’s Hollywood stars hanging out with the “right people”. It’s associating with the “right brands”. In politics, a platform can be a public office (Congress), an organization (Rainbow Push Coalition or Tea Party), or a cause. Sometimes a family name can be a platform. Being a Kennedy will open quite a few doors regardless of whether you are a genius or intellectually challenged.
“Leveraging a platform” means using an association with a personality, movement or organization to raise one’s own public persona. Often a platform makes an individual, who is not well known, an industry leader and public figure. We’ve seen this with people like Steve Jobs (Apple) and Yahoo’s Melissa Mayer.
Religious organizations are platforms as well. Jesus entered into a religious world ran by Pharisees who used the Jewish religion as a platform to derive power and wealth. The Catholic church and Church of England are both platforms that wield extremely powerful influence on culture and society. Pope Francis was just Jorge Bergoglio before getting the nod.
So as church leaders, we find ourselves in a precarious position of wanting to build a platform that serves people, yet trying to avoid the tendency for it to become about us. The idea of a platform is amoral. It can be used for the good of many or to only serve the few.
As we look to Jesus as our model and teacher, he avoided certain platforms while building others. In John 12:6, the excited crowd tried to make him King. What a platform! As king, he could right the wrongs of the religious system and fight back against Roman tyranny. But that wasn’t the platform Jesus had come to build. His platform was to be upside down – not where the leaders become powerful, but where the strongest served the weakest. There was a pattern in Jesus’ ministry. He would stay in an area until his popularity began to grow, then he would move on. What if church leaders today took this approach? An interesting thought.
So the question for us is, what kind of platform are we building? Is a platform that exalts a few or serves the many. Is it a platform that raises my public persona or points a big spotlight on Jesus? Most importantly, if Jesus were here today, would he come along side in the work or would he quietly slip out of town during the night?