Reforming reform

"Repent! " The command brings with it an image of a street preacher shouting an apocalyptic warning. Or a Puritan minister leaning across his pulpit. From the first day of Christ Jesus' ministry, the call for repentance as a first step in individual reformation has been basic to Christian teaching. But does this teaching have anything to offer someone working to reform an institution—to improve public schools, institute campaign finance reform, or streamline government programs?

Consider this scenario: A reformer builds a veritable cathedral of new ways of doing things only to have those carrying out the new approaches reduce them almost to rubble. Such resistance to institutional reform may not even be mean-spirited. But if some kind of change of thought has not happened within the individuals implementing an improved program, institutional reform may be slow or halted entirely.

Reform: is it really possible?
June 16, 1997

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