Being Braver, Being Objective, leading from deeper within

Ive been thinking a lot about the future impact the current situation will have and is having on church and how we as leaders need to respond. There is no doubt that current models of ministry and mission will need to shift as resources become more limited and how local ministry can be effectivly supported will hugely be impacted. I am for the neighbourhood, in many ways 100 years ago I would have been for the parish but most people don’t know what a parish is now. But for me the importance of the local, the rooted, the grounded is paramount, it’s one of the things I like about the local church – it’s about the LOCAL. Our greatest local resource is the people, the local community, and the response about how to allocate resources as they become scarcer will ultimately impact the local. So I am interested in thinking through the decision making processes that help us work out how we release our greatest local resource.

At a basic level decision making is easy and there are several key steps – Identify the decision needed, Gather Info, Identify alternatives, Weigh evidence, Choose among the alternatives, Take action and Review.

HOWEVER there is a whole lot going on under the surface, our bias, our known knowns, our known unknowns, who is in the room, how we shift and filter information (see Nigels post). My hunch is that throughout the process we never really know ourselves as well as we think, we don’t always have the right people in the room, and we always see the context through a particular lense. In Reinventing Organisations Laloux right at the starts talks about humanity evolving through sudden leaps, and he borrows from Wilber’s colours identifying 6 paradigms and the breakthroughs that helps us move through paradigms. You can view a short video here. For Wilber modern western society has a pathological focus on the exterior or objective perspective, and whilst I tend to agree, many of us “think” we are objective but in reality less so.

One of the things that has been encouraging is seeing many leaders become braver and more objective. People who have been questioning stuff for a number of years around the edge of missional approaches are choosing now to step up or out. People are becoming more vocal about personal views that don’t chime with the institutional line. Yesterday in Greenbelts Wild At Home workshop Brian Mclaren spoke about the Institution (institutional religion) being caught in the middle between Progressive and Regressive approaches. So for me as a progressive it encouraging to see people becoming braver in leading out of who they really are. At the same time countless studies show it is almost a universal that in times of stress institutions and people tend to regress from innovation and creativity. SO what might the key for leaders as we move on. We know from hard evidence (see the day of small things etc) the impact FX has on developing local ministry, the value for money it offers, and the way it helps develop a broader innovative and missional culture in the church. So how might we regression that inevitably seems to come with the pressure on resources etc.

There are two the key issues for leaders moving forward. Firstly I think we need to revisit what it means to embrace leading out of who we are (see Simon Walkers The undefended leader). Institutions place in the middle between Progression and Regression means in all likelyhood the key leaders have come through and are shaped by the institution, so leading out of who we are is questionable. To counter this we need to make sure that different voices are in the room and lead in teams with an undefended stance allowing that team to help us take the really hard look at ourselves needed and what is shaping us and the decisions being made.

I have been around the institution long enough to hear Einstein quoted time and time again that “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” but too often this saying is rolled out without any real change happening, precisely because the of the points raised in my first point. So the second issue, is that because of the inevitable predisposition to regress, any regressive decision needs to be seriously wrestled with, it should never be taken at face value, but held to a more serious and rigorous scrutiny. In fact I would go further and suggest that any regressive decision is simply shelved or binned and a process developed to facilitate make sure that more innovative responses are considered. Perhaps a simple process could be an adaptation of De Bonos Thinking Hats. We know from creative thinking our predisposition to travel down well worn paths and these will seem particularly inviting at the moment. But by using the Thinking Hats, perhaps with the Blue Hat (chairing hat) being particularly tasked to spot and stop regressive ideas, we can counter our regressive inherent mindset.

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