Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Is Your Church A Collaboration?"

"Mechanical order coordinates through cooperation. A lot of effort is focused on creating centralized control, consensus and structural protocols. The trouble with this is that the spirit of cooperation is a rigid spirit, one that stifles creativity and discovery. It is more concerned with sequence than rhythm. It squashes the human spirit. The mechanical plan becomes the master. The person or people who developed the plan then will frequently talk about how they want collaboration, but in practice, what they really show is a desire for you to cooperate with their plan by falling into line and making it work."

This is a continuing series by Michael Fleming, working from the book "Organic Community" by Joseph R. Myers.

Previous posts in this series are:
1) Is Your Church an Object?
2) Is Your Church a Clone?
3) Is Your Church a Body?
4) Is Your Church a Scoreboard?
5) Is Your Church a Factory?
6) Is Your Church a Hierarchy?

"The person who develops the plan typically has good intentions, but is afraid of what might happen if they give up control, so they make sure they keep it. The problem is, people are not primarily looking to cooperate with our plan for their lives. Cooperation is an effort to control how people participate. When you do this, they feel violated. Giving up control is not advocating chaos. It’s advocating for an organic order that works in self-organizing ways.

"Organic order coordinates through collaboration. It lives out a healthy process of connecting, but not by asking for people’s cooperation. It grows out of what you experience together – from connecting, not from falling in line with someone else’s program. The parts work together with a fluid, graceful movement like birds flying in a pattern or a school of fish gliding through deep waters. (Colossians 2:19)

"Often, people talk about 'intentional community.' Typically, 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. The truth is that we can have some control over the environments in which community usually emerges, but we have little or no control over community actually emerging. We can intend for the process of community to begin, but we cannot create community intentionally."

To follow Michael Fleming's blog, go to

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Is Your Church A Heirarchy?"

Is Your Church a Hierarchy?

Power is more verb than noun. It is action, not object. It is easier to describe how it is used than what it is. It is like love. Something defined more by its expression than by its form.

This is a continuing series by guest blogger Michael Fleming

Prior posts in this series:

Is Your Church an Object?

Is Your Church a Clone?

Is Your Church a Body?

Is Your Church a Scoreboard?

Is Your Church a Factory?

Mechanical order tries to deliver power through position. In it, positions are permanent. A person is set into a position on an organizational chart and given control, authority, jurisdiction, permission-granting rights, and influence. He or she is trained in how to use these tools to achieve a mechanical plan. Then, the position encourages them to concentrate on what it is that will best manufacture the mechanical plan. So, each person jockeys for positional power in order to command the resources needed to accomplish his or her specific part of the plan. They are so absorbed by their position that they lose sight of the whole. They see their role as disconnected from any other – except for those which may help them achieve their goal. Participants concentrate all of their efforts on the success of their particular position. But, position shouldn’t be where power lies. Positions encourage seeing people as more and less significant. Power should be in the person, not the position.

In organic order, power is revolving. It understands that the value of each part makes the whole. (I Corinthians 12:17-20) At any point in time you will find different individuals leading and operating with power as individuals take on different roles depending on what is being demanded by the life of the organism. Within this framework, there is no dominant member. This encourages you to know when the community is inviting you to steward the power and when it is asking you to cede the power.

For example, in a mechanical order marriage, decisions are made solely on the basis of position (“I am the husband” or “I am the wife”). In an organic order (healthy) marriage, there are certain roles that need to be fulfilled. These roles are carried out based upon who has the competencies and can best fulfill that role at that moment in time. The power goes to this individual.

It’s the same with any other healthy form of organic order. Leadership and power is taken by whoever is “asked” to by the life of the organism. It will “tell” you what parts should steward the power as time goes on. It will be whichever parts will best serve the whole entity. Thus, power is shared in a revolving manner – now John, now Tim, now Brent, now Dedra, now me, back to John. Once power is cemented into a position; that position, along with that human, becomes the Head. But, the Church is a Body operating with a non-human, invisible Head that can only be heard and understood fully when it is free to use the parts of the body in a revolving manner. (Ephesians 1:22) By creating positions, the Head is being told what part it’s going to use for whatever it’s trying to do at any particular time.

This does not mean that everyone has the same amount of power at the same time. The life of the community is always inviting people to step forward and steward the power. People figure out what they’re good at, and that shapes what their roles are. There’s not just one leader. Different people lead during different parts of the process and it is understood that the value of each part is what makes the whole. We are to live in a way that maximizes individual and communal sources of power. (I Corinthians 12:12-26)

Within mechanical order, positions feel the need to influence every aspect of the organization’s life, decide on its every movement, judge every action, and make all the rules. Within organic order, your “position” is YOU. Isn’t this the type of environment you want to live in? It’s time to be done with top-down approaches. The day of organic order has come.

Myers, Joseph R. "Organic Community"

To find out more about Michael Fleming, go to

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation