Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Book Notes - Organic Community

Organic Community - Joseph Myers [recommended to me by a CA staffer]

1. Organic Order - Synchronized Life - moving from master plan to organic order
master plan - community based on programming
organic order - community based on environment
This is not a call for "come what may" leadership and ministry. There is a difference between being organic and seeking organic order.
I like small groups. I question, however, the manner in which they are promoted and structured At their best, small groups supply an organic-ordered environment for some people in some seasons of their lives to grow their sense of healthy community and belonging. At their worst, small groups deliver a manufactured environment that is promoted for all people and for every season of life.

2. Patterns - spatial observation - moving from prescriptive to descriptive

3. Participation - responsible anarchy - moving from representative to individual
people participate as individuals not as teams or groups
people participate in a decentralized, local way
people participate with the whole of their lives
people participate in a way that is congruous with the way they are asked
the aggregate of participation becomes known as the team or group acts, thinks and makes decisions

People participate as individuals. They are interested in why they - specifically - are being asked. They want to know that you have chosen them first and foremost because of who they are, not to fulfill a strategic master plan.
"Why me?" comes from a deep desire to live beyond one's self. A person wants to contribute in concrete ways, possibly in ways that only he or she could.

4. Measurement - recalculating matters - moving from bottom line to story
Are the stats on the back of a baseball card the true means of discovering the great players among the good?
Reducing living organisms to a census count demeans the way we were created.
Kennon Callahan has coined a phrase: "persons served in mission." He suggests that when we provide our congregational "counts," we remember to count "persons served in mission," not just our members, attendees and former members. Might I add that by using the words "in mission," Ken is confirming that story is the measurement tool of community. Churches don't become legendary on the community grapevine via reporting of numbers. They become legendary through the sharing of their story of mission within the community.

5. Growth - progressive evolution - moving from bankrupt to sustainable
model for growth: large-lump vs. piecemeal
pattern for maintaining growth: incremental vs. quantum leap
bankruptcy vs. sustainability
Consider these questions before you launch your next initiative:
- How much of our future will this one thing control?
- Will this one thing that I'm planning deplete all or most of our resources?
- Will this one thing I'm planning consume all or most of the community's life?
- If what I'm planning fails, will it devastate the whole?
- If what I'm planning succeeds, will it devastate the whole?

6. Power - authority - moving from positional to revolving

7. Coordination - harmonized energy - moving from cooperation to collaboration
The spirit of cooperation is a rigid spirit, one that stifles creativity and discovery.
People are not primarily looking to cooperate with our plan for their lives.
Often when people talk about "being intentional" what they mean can be summed up with words such as purpose-driven, measurable, scientific, deliberate, planned, calculated or premeditated. The problem is that all of these words are rooted in assumed control, and community cannot be controlled with intention.

8. Partners - healthy alliances - moving from accountability to edit-ability
Accountants keep records. Editors wipe away errors while keeping the voice of the author.

9. Language - future lingo - moving from noun-centric to verb-centric
Almost all Internet language describes relational activity.
Ask yourself - What am I treating as noun that really is verb?

10. Resources - mining wherewithal - moving from scarcity to abundancy
The spirit of abundancy is a celebration of possibilities.
A better question for the church might be "What can the church do to assimilate itself into people's lives?" instead of "How can we assimilate people into the church's life?"

+ My observations...
:: Loved Chapter 3 on Participation - made me think a lot about how we invite people into serving or on teams. How many times do we neglect to answer "Why me?" when we invite someone.

:: Chapter 4 on Measurement - how does this change the core score that we keep? I think it expands what we measure.

:: Chapter 5 on Growth - really different way to think about growth and control and large-lump and I really appreciate the idea that new initiatives shouldn't be the all-in-all, aside from even talking about sustainable growth. And part of that is my disposition to not want to be in charge of "all if it."

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