Starfish and the Spider, part 3

Brafman & Becstrom, authors of The Starfish and the Spider, offer some “New Rules for the Game.” Here are their rules along with my comments.

New Rules to the Game

  • Diseconomies of scale – larger is not always better: Bill Easum has been saying for a while that the era of the Mega-Church will come to an end before too long. I’m not enough of a futurist to assess this claim, but I know many churches continue to grow huge – some to several thousand in just a few years. They are reaching people for Christ and doing powerful ministry. I wouldn’t want to be in their place, with debt and investments in BIG if the day comes when the masses tire of BIG and decide they want small. As things stand now, even the BIG churches preach the necessity of small – of making ways for people to connect face to face and do life together.

  • The Network Effect – New members increase the value of the network. I believe that God brings people into the church – adds them to the Body – so that we can be healthier and better achieve Kingdom purposes. Churches in particular benefit from new folks, bringing in their new networks of relationships and broader experience.

  • The Power of Chaos. Most people out there seem to hate chaos, preferring certainty and predictability. I’m a P – as in INTP – so I have a fairly high tolerance for chaos. A few years ago when I was reading a book on chaos theory, I learned that when medical researchers were studying the regularity of heart rhythm, they expected to find that the more regular a person’s rhythm, the healthier the person. They discovered, however, that extreme regularity could be a sign of unhealth. A normal healthy heart follows a chaotic pattern. I can imagine that a healthy church might also.

  • Knowledge at the Edge. Everyone in the church, however marginal, has knowledge needed for our wise fulfillment of our mission. If we only listen to the official leaders we will lose out. As leaders, however, we need to find ways to harness and discipline that knowledge.

  • Everyone wants to contribute. I know that I want to make the world a better place. I don’t have much direct impact on the world as a whole, but I do have the capacity to work for the good in various local institutions: my family, my church, my city, the local schools. I like to work on the assumption that other people think that way also.

  • Beware the Hydra response. Dangers are multi-headed and complex. I’ve seen that in church, yes.

  • Catalysts rule. Here’s my paraphrase: People who can energize and equip others to join in the mission of the church are immensely more powerful than some powerful leader at the top who tries to do or control everything.

  • The Values are the Organization. In Built to Last Collins & Porras talk about how the best organizations they studied were absolutely clear on their mission and absolutely flexible on how they pursued it. As we find our identity and security in Jesus, take his mission as our own, our organization will be more than just organizational structure, but can become an agent of the Kingdom of God.

  • Measure, Monitor and Manage. Pay attention to what’s going on around us. Ask questions about it. “Are we there yet?”

  • Flatten or be flattened. Hierarchical organizations will be relatively weaker to the degree they are more hierarchical. Learn from the Starfish or be squished. This is the message of their book. I’m still convinced that while this is valuable, clarity regarding our mission is even more important.

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1 Response to Starfish and the Spider, part 3

  1. Pingback: blogroll highlight: richard heyduck « Gen-X Missional Wesleyan

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