Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts on Organic Community

Bob Hyatt at PastorHacks has blogged a couple of posts on organic community, from a pastoral/leadership perspective, that are extremely excellent.

Read them both. They are very thoughtful and very helpful.

Some excerpts from 80-20 and the Organic Church, Part 1:
It had been my hope in starting Evergreen to do church in such a way that the 80-20 thing got turned on its head. The picture in my mind was of a community where 80 of the people did about 100% of the work of ministry and the other 20 was comprised of new folks on a journey towards Jesus and just getting started, people recovering from significant hurt, or some other reason why we as a community would tell them "No- just rest right now. Don't feel like you have to do anything."

While I feel like we've been able to do that for those who needed it, and while a significant number of evergreeners (more than 20%, that's for sure) are working hard to see good things happen in our community, we're not really on track to turn that 80-20 thing upside down.

And that's okay.

The reality (as Gladwell and Ferris point out) is that the 80-20 principle isn't just a component of church life, but rather, it's actually a fundamental law of human interaction . . .

There's both freedom in recognizing all of this as well as danger for someone in ministry here.

We pastors tend to spend all of our time with either the very nice or the very needy people. The very needy people because of the urgency of their calls to us (and the fact that we are in ministry to help people after all), and the very nice people because, well, they are so dang nice. They're low maintenance, tend to be somewhat recharging for us... but in the end, what happens is this: Between spending all our time with the 80% of very nice and very needy people, we end up with very little time for those who are actually doing 80% of the work in ministry in our community

Some nuggets from 80-20 and the Organic Church, Part 2:
I'm finding great freedom in re-organizing how I do my people work. I'm coming to realize that for us to get to where I ultimately see us (one community spread out across the city, planting churches out of a base of 3-4 sites), we're going to need to not only grow past that 120 mark, but learn how to effectively develop and nurture leadership. The freedom has come, not in giving myself permission not to pastor/shepherd people, but in giving myself the freedom to refocus from spending 20% of my "people time" on leadership and 80% on very nice and very dependent people to focusing primarily on leadership, that is, spending 80% of my people time on those 20% who either do or will do (with a bit of investment) 80% of the work of ministry and 20% on the remaining 80% of people.

The other danger is that we'd see that vast number of people who are nice, but not really doing much in our church community as somehow spiritually immature or some kind of slacker. Now, that may be true in some cases. Maybe they really don't care much and are happy, in effect, to mooch spiritually off the hard work, sweat and sacrificial giving of others.

But I suspect that's not most people's issue.

What I'm coming to see is that many people are someone's 20%. That is, they may be in the 80% of folks in our community who don't make much happen, but that's probably not true in every area of their lives. Whether at work, in their extended family, in school or civic organizations, these folks are doing a lot that matters there. And that means they can't do it here.

These two posts of Hyatt's are examples of what happens when I'm throwing some things around in my head and thinking "I really wish someone else would articulate some of these vague notions so I know what it is I'm really thinking about" and then serendipitously seeing the links to these posts in Steve McCoy's shared items. That ever happen to you?


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