Friday, November 29, 2013
What's in the church mailbox. . .
I recently had a moment while on hold at the phone and the first piece I picked up offered some wisdom for church organizations facing radical change. The author began with a matter of fact presumption that we were living only the fourth era of major change in history and one in which we are compelled to change everything. There is no normal is this changing world. If we as a church are to survive, the author insisted we will need to be able to quickly adapt to the changing environment. He offered some pointers to help people like me.
Stability is deadly for organic things.
Learn to embrace disequilibrium (whatever that means). He said stability and the status quo will be disaster for all organizations until we know what kind of world this evolving epoch of change will bring. The time is now, according to this author, to throw everything out and start over instead of trying to hold on to faltering ways of organizing and leading that no longer work.
Smaller organizational structures adapt more easily.
Ditch the committees and board structures in nearly all congregations and create a small board to set policy and hold the pastor accountable while getting out of the way for its implementation.
Learn to live on the edge of chaos.
Apparently he has never been to my congregation. Living on the edge of chaos is already what we are doing. Hmmm. Heresy becomes the norm (when the operating truth has been 'we have always done it this way...'). If your church is not experimenting with everything, it is dying.
Organic morphying takes on new shapes. Living systems have a mind of their own.
Self organizing is the key. In chaos no one knows how it will look when the dust settles so stop trying to predict and plan and simply go with the flow. Morphing (what I would call mutating) is an uncontrolled process so you need to step out of the way.
Action is the only way forward.
You cannot predict the future or plan for it -- just do it. Intuition is the most important skill for the future. Are you ready to take a flying leap?
This is the stuff that is supposed to help me. Remember that old book "Who Moved the Cheese?" It has contributed to the birth of an organizational philosophy in which old is bad, structure inhibits, change is good, chaos is creative, and stability is death. Yeah, I know. Throw that mail away. But think about it. There are a good many church leaders and clergy who are reading this, believing in it, and leading their churches by its wisdom. There are many evangelicals and even Lutherans who have drunk the kool-aid of modernity and are sure they are the saviors of the church and the keys to the survival of what God began. The holy word of change experts has become the new Word of the Lord that guides, shapes, and directs the churches committed to statistical success. What unnerves me is not that this kind of stuff comes in my mail, but that there are too many who secretly or overtly believe this stuff and who are right now messing with the faith, worship, and ministry of their congregation to make sure that the world of change has not left them behind... as apparently it has left behind Jesus...