Previous posts have looked at what it means to shift from being Church focused to becoming Kingdom focused and shifting from maintenance leadership to missional leadership. All of these efforts are in an effort to explain what it means to be a “cultural architect” in the life of the church. This installment invites us to look at something that every successful group in the history of the world has understood. We all know the story of the invention of the light bulb, specifically the number of failed attempts it took Edison to perfect what he was looking for. (As a sidebar, Edison did not create the light bulb but only improved it. Humphrey Davy actually is credited for “inventing” it.) It is not a matter of needing to share about the need to “get back on the horse that bucked you”, it is a matter of recognizing that we need to find the bucking horses! The Church has a bit of a reputation for playing it safe and looking “old fashioned” (take a look at the book Unchristian), and it might very well be rooted in our fear of failing. As argued in previous columns, the fear of failure is directly tied to the Church’s felt need to get members of the institution rather than seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. When we are seeking members over Disciples everything we do will be pushed through the lens of “will this upset or drive people away”? Jesus did many things which did not make people feel very warm and fuzzy (driving out the money changers, pointing out the woman at the wells situation, not throwing stones at another woman, ignoring Pilate’s questions, etc.). God’s desire is not that we build up a wonderful institution with many members. Rather it is God’s desire that we build up the many members of the body of Christ! It is our call by Christ to go out into the world and Make Disciples, but it is hard to make disciples when we are fearful that we might fail and people might leave the institution. Of course this does not mean we fail for the sake of failing, but that we learn to fail forward. When (not if) we fail we must fail in such a way to learn from our failures so that we can advance the Kingdom of God. Perhaps one of the greatest numbers we do not count in the UMC is the number of failures we have had. I would argue that the rate in which we fail forward is directly tied to the amount of growth a community of faith sees. So the question is, have you failed forward this week/month/year?