Rebirthing Simpson's Vision
Years ago I sat with my highschool classmates while a representative from General Moters invited us to join the annual car design contest for high school students. I, like tens of thousands of boys, tried to draw a new car. But, the logistics of finally producing, from scratch, a 1/12 scale dream car in wood overwhelmed me, and I looked for a different future. But not everyone. Some went on. In the current issue (March 2006) of Car and Driver Patrick Bedard reviews a new book by John L. Jacobus: The Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild. "GM wanted innovators...who could predict the future with their dream-car designs." And some did. From the contest came some of GM's top designers such as Virgil Exner Jr, Charles M. Jordan and Terry Henline. Sadly, GM killed off the Guild in 1968 when it decided it "was in the business of manufacturing and selling cars, and not in the business of teaching America's youth the intricacies of automotive design."
Reviewer Bedard comments: "But maybe the teaching worked the other way. The rise of guild graduates within GM, to about 35 percent of its stylists in 1957, suggests that it was the youth of America doing the teaching."
And I might add, that perhaps this tells us why GM has produced unbelivably boring cars for the last twenty years. They stopped being taught by teens, they stopped developing a talent pool from high school up.
Currently the evangelical church is, rightly, concerned with the training of leaders. What I notice is that this concern is focused primarily in two places. First, on those who are already in leadership positions. Who are the bright and shining stars? Send them for more training. Who are the ones who are OK -- the B level leaders? Coach them. All fine and good. I have no complaints.
The second point of concern is with college/seminary training. Here the waters muddy. Why can't they turn out the highly polished leaders that require no further work? Or at least, that is what I hear. Nevertheless, I am deeply a believer in formal training for ministry.
But, what about before college/seminary? What about the youth, the high school level? Have we forgotten them? Have we turned the youth programs into sophisticated spiritual kindergartens? Is everything focused on appeasing parents who want a safe place for their children? Are we being taught by, as well as teaching, the youth of our churches the intricacies of Bible study, world changing prayer, preaching (yes, I said preaching), evangelism - including cross cultural evangelism (which is more than hauling a bunch off for a Short Term Mission Adventure), peer-counseling? And the list could go on.
Even more, and I know this can sound like a cliche, are we willing to learn from them? Fisher Body Guild judges looked at a lot of ho-hum entries, and I am sure many that were laughable, but year after year, there were some fresh concepts presented that shaped the look of future cars. Are we listening to the high schoolers of today? Do some of them have things to say that can shape the church of 2015?