Good To Great, Part 1

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I have a huge stack of books that I’m trying to work through.  Actually, It would be more accurate to say I have "stacks" of books.

Lately, the particular stack I’m working on is filled with books on strategic planning and organizational structure/identity.

Currenlty, I’m about half-way through Jim Colllins’ Good To Great (Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t).

Although the book is about public companies that were able to make enormous, sustained moves from "good" to "great," I’m wondering if some of the concepts/questions/principles will translate to the church.

16 thoughts on “Good To Great, Part 1

  1. Mike M

    “Although the book is about public companies that were able to make enormous, sustained moves from “good” to “great,” I’m wondering if some of the concepts/questions/principles will translate to the church.”

    Sounds like this is a common temptation for pastors… going to the world for advise on how to run Heaven’s affairs.

    My church believes in one simple principal… “Healthy sheep beget healthy sheep.”

    Let me unpack that a little…

    1. Feed the sheep all of God’s Word… every single verse.
    2. The seep will naturally grow and become healthy through the transforming power of God’s Word.
    3. Lastly, healthy sheep naturally reproduce.

    Unfortunitly there seems to be a general pattern that repeats itself in Church history.

    God sends His Spirit into the world and genuine revival transforms entire nations.

    Time goes on and the “glory fades” like on Moses’ face.

    Then man takes the work of God and tries to memorialize it the best he can and replaces God’s Spirit with organizational techniques. That’s how we’ll keep this ball rolling… let’s get organized!

    Then the movement turns into a denomination and pretty soon the “power” is completely gone. Yes this has even happened with my church’s denomination… so don’t think I have a superiority complex. My church started out in the “Jesus Movement” and now it’s just another denomination.

    Jesus said:
    16″No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
    Matthew 9

    So that’s why God’s Spirit is usually found in new groups, because the old denominations can’t handle the “new wine”.

    And when He gives us new wine is completely up to Him. Sometimes He waits decades to give it… so I guess you’re right… organization is the best thing we’ve got until then. 😦 Read on.

    Have a God day!
    Mike M

  2. Snowflake

    Well, I see where this would be a useful book, but it seems so “cold” and not taking into account the humannity part of the equasion…and I do understnad that’s not why the book was written.

    The good vs. great idea…? Well, that didn’t sit with me well because it sort of made good not look like good enough…suppose “good” was the best that person could do, and, in that case, was “great” because they (i.e. that congragation or group) was “good” compared to others, but “great” when compared with what anyone thought was possible, which God made possible. And didn’t God say at Creation that it was “good”.

    Just random thoughts…not that the book doesn’t sound interesting. I like the POW bit in there…that really was inspiring.

  3. Burt

    Mike, thanks for thoughts…though they don’t seem to interact with any of the questions and thoughts I’ve posted above.

    Does God use secular things to speak to us at all? How do we know that Collins isn’t a believer? Does that make any difference? Anyway, summarizing Collin’s work as “organizational techniques” is quite the disservice.

    For the record, though, I do believe that “healthy sheep give birth to other sheep.” Though I’m not quite sure that too many of us measure up as healthy! We’ve got to learn to be brutally honest about where we’re at, eh?

  4. Burt

    Snowflake…
    Your set of questions is exactly why I thought that we should define what being a “great” church means. Certainly, it can’t be just in relationship to others churches, or we are simply left with some kind of judgmental relativism. The real issue is what does God think constitutes being a “great” church…and are we aspiring to that…or settled for something less that seems sufficient to us?

  5. Snowflake

    I know what you mean…I guess we can’t judge, we just need to pray and meditate and see if God is telling us to do something bigger than what we are doing now. It’s hard to wait for God to talk (I know this from personal experience…) but maybe that’s the answer?

    I struggle with good vs. great professionally with both my own achievements and having to “judge” the work of my students…what makes good and what merrits exceptional work?

    Probably no one answer of course…there never is in a world made of shades of grey.

  6. jeff

    Welcome back, PB!

    I think I share some of Mike’s concerns/reservations regarding this approach. My experience in the corporate world is one of quantification. If it is important than you need to figure out how to measure it. I am not comfortable suggesting that a church’s effectiveness is necessarily measurable. Or maybe it is better said that measuring a church’s effectiveness may be distracting. There is a rather large church in the area here that publishes, on their large sign out front, the number of salvations and baptism within a recent time period. Not only do I find this somewhat pretentious, I’m not sure it’s ‘the point’. I think this same church would be hugely effective if it’s only accomplishment was a suicide averted, or a single marriage relationship repaired.

    I hope I made my point graciously because I also think that stepping back and considering the things you are considering is a very healthy exercise.

    Blessings!

  7. Mike M

    Burt said:
    “Mike, thanks for thoughts…though they don’t seem to interact with any of the questions and thoughts I’ve posted above.”

    Well, I was just commenting on the part I quoted.

    And as I was re-reading the post and the following comments, the words “organized religion” came to mind. And those two words usually aren’t spoken about with fondness. And on a very basic level, that’s kinda what you’re after… organized religion. [img]http://lifewithchrist.org/js/fckeditor/editor/images/smiley/msn/confused_smile.gif[/img]

    Jeff said:
    “My experience in the corporate world is one of quantification. If it is important than you need to figure out how to measure it. I am not comfortable suggesting that a church’s effectiveness is necessarily measurable.”

    Bingo Jeff! You put into words what I could only sense. That’s exactly the crux of the matter here.

    Have a God day!
    Mike M

  8. Mike Knibbs

    Burt,
    I read the book and I agree is does cause us to think! I will comment on just a couple of the points of discussion. 1. The “Good vs Great”: we are all wired differently, differnt giftings, different passions in ministry, etc. I think that sometimes there is a temptation to be satisfied with good because we’ve had success and peopele give us an “atta boy”, when the “great” is within our grasp when we “press toward the mark for the prize…”. 2. I was also moved when I read the book about the “hedgehog principle”. As pastors with our great desire to “become all things to all people…and by doing so, to win some. The hedgehog mindset says “What is it that I feel I can do better than anyone else??” And let’s focus on that! So, what is that “God birthed passion” within me?? What is it that I can do, that no one else can/will do exactly like I can do it? I feel that there are a lot of ministers out there that get burned out doing things that God never gifted them in, birthed in them, etc. I have found over the years, it’s so easy to get worn out doing things that God never intended for me to do!! And if God uses a secular writer to bring that to my attention, so be it! I truly want to be “All” that He wants me to be!!

  9. Burt

    Jeff: concern noted! Quantification is not what I’m after here, and I agree that such a focus isn’t necessarily healthy. But I do think it is important to think about what it is that God may hope to be great about the church and move toward that. Are we instead more comfortable maintaining our forms and systems because it’s what we’re used to doing, or are we willing to conform to the Spirit’s direction and character? So once again…it’s back to defining what makes a great church. Your examples of a church helping to avoid a suicide or repair a marriage work for me. So what are the qualities that might comprise such a church? How does a church demonstrate and excel in them?

  10. Burt

    Mike M: “organized religion,” with it’s connotations of stodgy legalism is certainly not what I’m after! However, I don’t that I’m for disorganized religion either! [img]http://lifewithchrist.org/js/fckeditor/editor/images/smiley/msn/wink_smile.gif[/img]

    I’m simply wondering if any of the introspective questions and challenges posed by Collins can also be directed at the church. Often, I think we miss out on real personal growth because we don’t take the time to ask ourselves the right questions and honestly self-evaluate.

  11. Burt

    Mike Knibbs: Thanks for the comment! You are zeroing in on the heart of my thinking on this. If I can extrapolate the hedgehog idea, as you describe it, then from the self to the local church, we should end up considering what we may be doing that perhaps God never called us to do and how it may keep us spread too thin and prevent us from actually becoming what God has desired all along. Does that make any sense?

  12. Clint

    Hi Burt, good to see you “back” again.

    Did you notice the recent [url=http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2008/01/an_alternative.html]Out of Ur article[/url] on “excellence”? I think it may fit in with what you’ve written here.

    As someone with a degree in business, I can tell you that not all business models or books will translate to the church. Some leadership books will, with understood caveats.

  13. jeff

    [quote]So what are the qualities that might comprise such a church? How does a church demonstrate and excel in them?[/quote]PB, you have a wonderful pastor’s heart. I really like the questions you are asking. When I read the word church in your comment above I sense community and I believe that is the key. Yes, we should each feed and nurture our gifts, but it seems to me we are seldom as effective as we are in community. Perhaps a measure might be the overall involvement of your community in the mission of the church. Does the community feel encouraged to bring forward new ideas for service? How long does a person attend before being encouraged to participate in the mission of the church? Is it the the old 80/20 rule or is it pushing 95/85? If you church shut its doors tomorrow, who would notice? Would it be missed? Why?

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