Moving Participation From Positions to People

Post 3 of the series “What It Means to Be Organic” exploring Organic Community by Joseph Myers.  The first post is here.

Mechanical Order Invites Participation by Position

The second organizational tool that can used mechanically or organically is PARTICIPATION.  Participation is the way people are involved in the community’s purpose.  In mechanical order, people are invited to participate by filling in positions in a master plan. For example, setting up ministry programs and asking for volunteers to serve in the ministries.  In this case, leaders invite people to participate in ways that serve the plan.  They are then inserted into the manufacturing process (program) with the intention that they are a piece that can help bring about the predetermined desired outcome.

While some may have the spiritual gifts, heart, ability, personality and experience to fill in certain spots, those that don’t fit in are left out.  People don’t truly feel a part of what’s going on because they are objectified as commodities to fill in spots in organizational missions.  Intentionally or not, leaders end up controlling how people participate at the cost of their individuality; exactly what the Lord said should not be the mark of the Kingdom (Matt. 20:25-28).


Organic Order Encourages Participation as People

In organic order, individuals are invited to participate as themselves for the good of the group as a whole.  The mission (or ministry) emerges from how the individual participants grow together as a community and interact with the world around them given their competencies (spiritual gifts, natural talents, etc.).  To be truly organic, community must take precedence above mission.  This is the only way that the priority of the health of the individuals is kept front and center.  If mission comes first, you sacrifice the health of the individuals for what they can do for the mission. Instead, the mission comes out of the improved health of the individuals.  Plus, God’s eternal purpose is wrapped up in community.  Community is the prime product.  Mission is a by-product.

To be organic, you cannot force a group of individuals to be something that they’re not.  This is what happens when you set up mission and ask the individuals to conform to it.  You decide on what the community will be and do before they become.  In this way, an end product is elevated and the becoming is disregarded before you even know what the parts were designed to become and do.  Instead, an organic environment allows individual and communal mission to develop naturally as the members grow.  They become…and the doing emerges.  It allows people the freedom to be uniquely themselves for the good of something bigger than themselves.

People don’t want to be involved in community if it costs them their individuality.  Community should not subtract from a person’s individuality, but support, highlight, encourage and accentuate it.  When people’s individuality is sacrificed for a master plan, they feel like cogs in someone’s machine.



When people feel like their individuality is what makes up the community, they feel like they belong.  They feel like they are important.  They feel like they are the community; that it wouldn’t be the same if they were not a part of it.  They feel like they’re a part that is unique and can’t be replaced.

In the next post, we’ll talk about the third organizational tool of MEASUREMENT.

Your turnWhat do you think?  Anything to add?  Questions? Have you ever felt invited to participate by position?  How about as a person?

The first post in this series is here.  The next post is here.

(Disclaimer:  The content of this post is the post author’s perspective on the book selection’s content and not necessarily the opinion of the post author.  To purchase the book, use the link below)

Organic Community by Joseph Myers

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