Post 5 of the series “What It Means to Be Organic” exploring Organic Community by Joseph Myers. The first post is here.
Mechanical Order Forces Growth That Depletes Resources
The fourth organizational tool that can be used mechanically or organically is GROWTH. In mechanical order, growth is forced upon a community in a “large-lump” sort of way. Typically the way this plays out is that a master planner develops a master plan that requires implementing big changes that have been perceived to be the solution for achieving different results. The plan controls the community by requiring growth in massive chunks.
This happens all the time as new movements are continuously started touting the latest model for church growth. All of a sudden someone has an idea that “works” somewhere (although they are likely focused on measuring numbers and not story), and a wave sweeps across church organizations looking for different results than they’ve experienced. They jump on the new ideas and develop a master plan for making it work; typically by taking a model and trying to clone it. Then, they launch it upon their community believing that it will accomplish whatever it is they are hoping for. But, if what is hoped for involves life, it will lead to bankruptcy.
Why? This method of growth typically requires most and sometimes all resources up front for very large growth spurts, leaving the community depleted and unable to support the natural growth that the life of the community would generate on its unique journey. One great example of this is when churches take out loans to build bigger buildings while “trusting that God will provide.” That sounds nice and religious, but the reality of what’s going on is they are painting their own picture and asking God to color it in for them.
Instead, God asks us to let him paint His picture through us. He emerges His plan out of His life within a community. That’s how life operates; and He is Life. If He gives you vision, it’s not your place to jump ahead of Him, make the vision happen prematurely and then ask Him to make it work. It’s His place to bring His vision to pass as you take your rightful place as His instrument.
Why are we so attracted to mechanical order growth? In our culture, growth is an expectation tied to performance. We are convinced that growth equals success. We associate faster growth with better performance and we’re willing to sacrifice the life of the community for it by instituting mechanical methods of making it happen.
Organic Order Waits for Growth to Allocate Resources
In organic order, growth is sustainable and generative. It happens in a “piecemeal” sort of way. This happens when an environment is given freedom to move forward in small steps as it adapts itself in change. The amount of resources used in the environment is just enough to sustain what the community needs; leaving the rest for when momentum has built and the community is ready to grow. Then when that time comes, only enough resources are used to support the incremental growth. In organic community, life determines growth and growth determines resource allocation. In the long run, this organic model of growth is both sustainable and leads to better health long-term. You just have to wait longer for it.
Growth is mysterious. It is something that we don’t and can’t have control over. When we try and control it, we squash it. Sometimes a living thing will lie dormant before something activates it. It’s these dormant periods that are so hard for humans that connect success with growth because they bring the temptation to take control and institute master plans with mechanical order. Organic growth requires giving up control and accepting the life of the community (in the case of churches, Jesus Christ) as the source for growth.
In the next post, we’ll talk about the fifth organization tool of POWER.
Your turn…What do you think? Anything to add? Questions? Have you ever experienced forced growth that caused bankruptcy? How about emerging growth that led to sustainability?
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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