Organizational transitions and what organizationally and as your church grows, complexities and things happen, [inaudible 00:00:20] and you're going to have plans, and those plans are going to change, because you're not in control. The faster you realize that the better it's going to be for the church. [inaudible 00:00:30]
I'm going to share, what I'm going to do in the first session, is kinda throw up a frame work for thinking about organizational realities, second session I'm going to unpack and walk through in more specific detail, transition we've undergone as a church. [inaudible 00:00:52] been in ministry now about 17 years. I grew up here in Louisville, became a Christian at a mega church here, kinda a fundamentalist Baptist Church here. In college, I played basketball here at Spalding University. Figured out pretty quickly I wasn't going to go [inaudible 00:01:11]. I transferred up to [inaudible 00:01:19] on staff at that same church where I became a Christian. [inaudible 00:01:26] I was on staffed there[inaudible 00:01:35] went from 1000 folks to about 6000 people spread across about 7 campuses. [inaudible 00:01:44] and college pastor and then teaching pastor.
[inaudible 00:01:51] moved down to South Florida, so just a slight change of [inaudible 00:01:57]. ... Church there First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach Florida. It was kinda a revitalization of a mega church. We went from like the singing Christmas tree to a gospel center missional church. Again, experience a pretty neat season of growth. We went from 2000 to 1000, back up to about 5000, and I think they're spread across 9 or 10 campuses in Palm Beach County.
In the midst of all of that God called my family to move and leave South Florida, trade the beach for cornfields and move to Indiana. If you're familiar with, 2009-2011 actually Lebron and I were kinda tracking with each other. He moved he made his big announcement, I made my big announcement the same year. [inaudible 00:02:56] I don't know what that means, we parachuted in[inaudible 00:03:00]. Part of a residency, opportunity with fellowship associates Charles and some others have been, based out of Little Rock. [inaudible 00:03:17] be here tomorrow preaching. Kinda sending organizations [inaudible 00:03:21] and some others.
About a year in we joined the surgeon network, [inaudible 00:03:29]. Different transitions. So, what I kinda want to talk about today is what is it [inaudible 00:03:49] I have seen everything from living room stage to [inaudible 00:03:55] and everything in between. So, I've had some unique experiences I guess, and I just want to talk a little bit about what it looks like and just a way of life. [inaudible 00:04:13] Talk a little bit about a bigger framework. I think Max Depree's [inaudible 00:04:20] is to define reality. As leaders, we are always defying reality, kinda defying the playing field for the organizations we lead. Church is both organism and organization, some of us love the organization.
What I found in surgeon network is we like organism. We don't understand organization. I think one of the weakness of our tribe, if you want to call it a tribe, is that we have robust theological vision we love theology, we love doctrine, as we should. We have no idea how to translate that to any kind of organizational reality. So, when I think about the process God has lead, training. I'm a leadership guy, my PhD is in leadership. I was raised in a church that was like a Holy Trinity of John Maxwell, and Bill Hybels, and Andy Stanley. Those were kinda my heroes, and so as you know that's like therapy for us. Those were our heroes, our mental models, the guys we kinda tracked with. This was late 90's early 2000's when leadership was kinda becoming an industry. People were obsessed with talking about leadership, leadership conferences, this was when catalyst and exponential leadership conferences, this whole what you might call industrial complex, even evangelicalism, was beginning to rise.
I think for me it's always been interesting because I had the leadership first, and the theology came later. For some of us we get theology first, and the pain of ministry forces the organizational conversations to come later. So I'm sure all of us, have had different level of exposures to organizational leadership and organizational thinking. What I've learned is, I think about the process God's taking me through, and I think about kinda the cascading what's required to build a church, a healthy church. It starts with theological vision. We have to start there. We can't start with pragmatism. We can't start with just organizational realities. We can't start with just the nuts and bolts of the family affair. A lot of church planning conferences you go, and it's all about technique, it's all about how to do this how to gather people, how to start a worship services. All that's important, but it's secondary to theological vision.
So when I think about a [inaudible 00:06:45] structure for ministry with a theological vision, and I would just define using, we have a rule at surgeon network, we have to quote Tim keller about every 10 minutes. So Tim Keller says theological vision is books in our church between doctoral beliefs and ministries practices should be a well conceived vision for how to bring the Gospel to bear on the particular cultural setting and historical moment in which we live. He calls that the middle ware between the hardware and the software. That is a theological vision, so it's more than a doctorate statement, it's not less than a doctrine statement, but it's more than a doctoral statement. And it is what are you going to go with this doctrine in this particular time and cultural moment in which we live as Pastors.
That then has to be supported, and again this is the movement so of us have a hard time making in leader, with organizational strategy. I would define organizational strategy as systems structures cultural outcomes that support, sustain, and access the implementation of the theological vision. Systems, structures, strategies, cultural, outcomes, that support, sustain, and access the implementation of the theological vision. I know we don't like to talk about systems. Systems feel man centered, they feel humanistic, they feel secular. But the reality it all of you have systems. The question is are they good or bad.are they helpful or not. There is no bulletproof system that you can set up that will do exactly what you want all the time. But you do have a system. The question, there is no bulletproof, but there is healthier, there is smarter, and so we want to be aware of the systems.
The thing about the body, the flourishing of the body, this is what enables the flourishing of theological visions is the organizational strategy. Think about your body, your body is comprised of 11 systems. You have a nervous system, digestive system, a circulatory system, these things regulate the flow the blood and oxygen through the body and make sure bad things get out and good things come in. That's the role of systems, they help enable the body to function, to be unified, and flourish in coordination among the different organs and body parts. That's really what we're kinda thinking about. The church as a body, we need to think body life, body life includes those systems that promote and sustain the flourishing of the body.
And then finally I think the one we forget about sometimes is all of this ultimately needs to lead us to a place of congregational health. Sometimes we get so geeked out about theological vision that the burden we have as leaders is a burden that is more of a Pastoral burden that never gets transferred or translated to a congregational burden. So all of these out to lead to flourishing healthy congregation. I would just define congregational health as ownership, like we want robust participation from our people, not just something that sounds good on paper that we write books about. It's actually something that is kinda owned and digested and lived out and embodied in the lives of our people, like really people that actually live in our community, that actually attend our church. Not our hypothetical ones that we wish would attend our church. I've heard, Blan Mason, a friend of mine in Boston often says, church planters have court team envy, you know when we start a church he said all of us wish we had someone else's court team.
The reality is how do you kinda take the bad news bare team that you have, that God gives you and lead them to health and flourishing. Ownership is a piece of that. Maturity is a piece of that. With growing up Ephesians 4, into the fullness of all that Christ has for us, which includes doctrinal, but also ethnic, conciliation, all the things that are mentions in Ephesians 4, a part of that vision, and then multiplication. How's God going to use us to birth new churches.
So, I want to talk about, before we jump in, just to the framework, and how we get to that place, and I think that a lot of us want to jump to organizational strategy without understanding how we get a vision in the first place. So I want to talk through something that was taught to me in fellowship associates by an old guy, who nobody will ever know. That was one of the most helpful paradigms for understand how vision theological vision becomes organizational strategies and leads to congregational health. It's this real simple little, you've probably seen this before. This has been a little bit helpful for me. Then I added some of my own thoughts too. And this will be the framework that we kinda gathered thinking on organizational transitions.
We're going to think about having organizational vision. Let's just start with awareness. Awareness asks the question, who am I? A lot of people don't have an organizational vision because they don't have a spiritual vision for their own lives. They don't hae any kinda of awareness of who they are, who God has made them to be. You cannot have a vision for the flourishing of your church you cannot have a vision of the flourishing of your city if you don't have a vision of the flourishing of your own soul. If you don't understand who you are, who you're not, who's God gifted you to be, who God's not fitted you to be, if you don't own that, and name that, kinda live that, then you're always going to be essentially booting off, or borrowing visions from somewhere else. You're going to become a mirror that reflects someone else's vision. You're going to just absorb the vision of your community, which may be, may or may not be redemptive.
I think awareness is this place we begin to look deeply into our own souls and say who am I? Who's God and what's he doing? What time is it in the place of which I live? A real helpful kinda way to think about awareness for me has been framed [inaudible 00:13:15]. So framed talks about this, I think this is just basic how we know in terms of being in the world. It talks about the normative aspect, situational, and the extensional. So awareness comes together when we're bringing through realities together. So normative is this idea of what's always true. What's normative, seeing the world as God sees the world, experiencing the world as God experiences the world, having God's heart. Seeing what God sees. John Scott says in Acts 17, as he talks about Paul walking through Athens, he says, if we see as God sees, we feel as God feels, we'll do as God does.
So the question is how do we begin to immerse ourselves in the scripture, in the redemptive narrative of scripture, so that we develop Christian or gospel instincts? That then frame how we see the world. So we don't start with the situational, we don't start with extensional. We start with who God is. Who is God and what's He been doing in the world? We let that then become our frame of reference for how we look into the future and live faithfully into the present.
So you can kinda of think of it as remembering forward. Remembering what God's done in the past. There's interesting tension in the book of Isiah. I've been reading the book of Isiah, my kinda personal devotion time, and there's this interesting tension is chapter 43 and 44 and 45 and 46 and remembering, remembering is a key word in the prophets and obviously in the Bible. Isiah will[inaudible 00:14:55] wrath will say remember the former things of old, remember not the former things of old. So which is it? Do we remember the former things of old, the former things of old we obviously know he's talking backwards to redemptive history, he's talking about remembering the passover, remembering God's might works, His deliverance, the Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan, the Exodus. He's saying look back remember those things, don't forget what God's done in the past.
As we remember to the past, and we see God's faithfulness it becomes that thing that fires and fuels and imagination to what God's going to do in the future. So we remember His creative acts, we remember His redemptive acts, and then God says remember not the things of old for behold I'm doing a new thing.
So, He's saying don't get stuck in the past. Don't get overly nostalgic, don't forget about the bads, don't fall into amnesia. Remember the past and let that remembering be that thing that catalyzes you into the future as you think about the new things God's going to do. There is a pattern that's established in God's redemptive activity that then becomes a template to how he's going to work in the future. These same things He's done in the Exodus He wants to do again. He wants to renew again in our day, in our time, [inaudible 00:16:06] renew Your fame, renew Your deeds God in our day.
So, we look into the future then to [inaudible 00:16:11] to live faithfully in the present. So starts remember what God's done in the past as we think about the future, and we immerse our selves, we get those Christian instincts that allows us to move with more confidence into the future, that God's called us to.
The situational, like who is God? The situation, like where am I? God's placed me in a particular time in a particular cultural moment to speak a particular language to a particular group of people, so let's not be so generalized in our thinking about leadership, that we're trying to apply someone else's template to our situation, SO, we're asking the questions of place, time, we have a theology of respective of the community in which we live, God's called us to live in this place, not another place. So thankful for John Owen, but John Owen doesn't live in Indianapolis. So what does it look like for me to do constructive theology that builds off of the faith that was once and all delivered to the Saints, but applies it to the particular time in which I live to a very different mind.
Think about the catechism, if you guys saw, Keller had a great article about the role of Pastoral care and theology in Comment magazine for the modern world. He said if you look back on the creeds, one of the things is, if you think about the ancient creeds that were written, they were written in a different time obviously, so the counsels and some of these creeds we use, the apostles' creed, the [inaudible 00:17:46] creed. They were written to, in a sense, as an attack on a institutionalized Catholicism. So he said we need to write new creeds. We need to update our creeds because we are no longer facing that threat. As a people what we are facing now is the secularization and hostility of a secular world.
So what does it look like for us to have a theology that speaks to our secular age? To borrow a phrase from Charles Taylor. So, this is the situational stuff. Then the [inaudible 00:18:17] is who am I ? It is the one we often times never get to. Achievers, Joel is in here, so I'll be careful with number thumping. Any Enneagram threes? Any church planners or entrepreneurs in Enneagram threes. We know about threes they tend to be superficial, they tend to not focus on a whole lot, they don't know who they are because they're always running after goals, and achieving, and performing. They forget to slow down and say who am I and who did God make me to be?
We need to ask this question. To some of us it feel selfish, it feels narcissistic, it feels egotistical to ask questions about who am I and what do I want. But the reality is there is true knowledge of God, there is no vision theologically without understanding who you are. That's Calvin right that's opening the institute. There is no knowledge of God without a knowledge of self. There is no knowledge of self without the knowledge of God. Couple quotes here that I've enjoyed as I've thought about this in my own life, Thomas Merton said, "Many poets are not poets for the same reason many religious men are not Saints. They never succeed in being themselves. They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have someone else's experience or write somebody else's poems, or possess somebody else's spirituality. People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular and too lazy to think of anything better. How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man's city? And so it takes heroic humility to be yourself and to be nobody but the man or the artist that God intended you to be."
David Benner and his book The Gift of Being Yourself says, "Christian spirituality involves a transformation of the self, that occurs only when God and self are deeply know. Both therefore have an important place in Christian spirituality there is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self. And no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God. Paradoxically we come to know God best not by looking at God exclusively but by looking at God and then looking at ourself, then looking again at God and then looking again at ourselves. This is also the way we best come to know ourselves. Both God and self are most fully known in relation to each other."
So, when we think about vision, when we think about organizational strategy, remember God wants to do something in us as much as He wants to do something though us. This is a cycle, and we continue to go through this, we deepen our knowledge of God as we understand where God's placed us, and we understand who we are and who we're not. Which leads us back to God. It leads us back to a deeper understanding, deeper repentance, deeper Communion, deeper fellowship, which then leads us into thicker and more robust and more authentic forms of community. Which then drives us deeper of ourself and who God is calling us and creating us to be.
SO church planting is part of this larger process. It's part of this larger part of what God's doing in the world. So we get to participate in the different. That's the first step, awareness. Once we begin to know who we are, who God is, where God's placed us, then we move division. That's why again so many of us don't really have vision that's authentic. I don't mean like an emotional transparency, like the way we kinda use it as a thin definition. I mean substantive. Real and from a place of deep conviction and calling vision. I think Andy Stanley said this, "An imagination for what could be fueled by the conviction of what outta be."
We don't have conviction if we don't start with awareness. That's why many of us, our vision statement is some derivative, it's been 10 minutes, of mewing the city spiritually, socially, and culturally, with the gospel of Jesus. I love that vision statement, but it's meaningless if it doesn't come from an authentic place. If it doesn't come from deep inside of you, a conviction of what it actually means in the time and place and space in which you live.
Working class fold in the city don't care, they don't even know what renewal means. How ar you going to put that in a language that makes sense to a guy that works hourly, a guy in our church that works hourly helping a process food stand. How do you make that make sense, what does that mean for him and his family? What does that mean for the minority who is just struggling to survive and feeling the pressures of simulation in a dominant cultural society and church? What does that mean for the upper middle class, fluent guy who is climbing the ladder, that is part of awareness that leads to vision.
I define vision as having a burden for flourishing. Having a burden for flourishing that moves us to action. Having a burden for flourishing that moves us to action. When I think about flourishing, which is kinda gain like popular work that nobody know what it really mean exactly, to me, I think of Acts chapter 8 verse 8 when Phillip goes out and he preaches Jesus, scattered out, the laymen feel up the deacon, whatever you think about Acts 6, some deacon, ark type, whatever, he moves out and preaches the Samyrian, it says at the end there was much joy in that city. That to me is flourishing. Flourishing is simply put the recovery of the job that God designed for our people in our city to experience in his presence.
It's the recovery of Genesis chapter 1. It's the looking forward to Revelation chapter 21. So, what does it look like for us to have a burden? Like a real burden? Something that moves us and stirs us into action? A longing for a better story for the people that live in our neighborhood, for the vampires that live in our neighborhood, to live a better story. For the religious people to live a better story, the business men to live a better story, a business woman to live a better story. It's Acts 17. Paul walks into the city, and it says he's provoked, he's stirred. We know that word provoked is he literally had an epileptic, medical fit, it's the same work of jealousy used by God in the old testament. He's jealous for these people to know God. They're submerged, this city is submerged in idolatry. And Paul, God gives him this vision, he sees as God sees, he feels as God feels, does as God does.
And so vision is birthed out that burden we have. I like that old word, burden. It's something that sits heavy it's an ache. It's a longing it's a deep desire that moves us to action. We have to be aware in the vision stage, the great enemy of vision, the anti vision when we go out and plant a church. We're reacting to against something we've seen, so if you come from a mega church, "we're going to be house church, organic, grass roots, anti structure, anti establishment." Tim's going to be talking about size down. If you want to go to his next seminar.
Mega church is not the enemy. Maybe you've come out of a grass root and you're like all in on systems, and I'm burned out and tired of the house church thing. Anti vision is always easy to deconstruct, it's harder to build. It's easier to be an arsonist, it's hard to be an architect. It's not just how we tear down, but what are we building, what are replacing, if we have problems with institutions what does it look like for us to build better institutions? The answer is not get rid of institutions we are in inescapably institutional being. Now institutionalization is a problem. That's a cultural that's a mentality. But you're going to build an institution with you know as Andy Crouch says, with artifacts and rules and systems like that is an institution. So the question is what are we building, what are we for, not just, what are we against?
Once we have a burden, then we go to strategy. People run to strategy. I'm going to do missional communities. I'm going to do community groups. I'm going to do multi-ethnic worship. I'm going to do, as we talked about them our strategies. We're going to scatter and gather whatever. Don't start with strategy. Start with vision, awareness, vision, then build strategy. Strategy can be discarded. Strategy changes. Strategy has a shelf life. We're going to talk about an organizational strategy the moment you pop the can, pssshhh, it begins to disintegrate. It begins to expire. So strategy can change. Vision doesn't really change. Alright vision doesn't change. Vision deepens. Vision matures. Vision grows, but it doesn't really change. The essence of it is probably always going to be the same. But strategy changes. Then we know what God's called us to do we have this burden, we know that strategy answers the question how. That's really what organizational strategies all about. How are we going to do the what and the why that Gods called us to do, in this time for the season.
Then courage. Courage we could actually do something, got to get off the whiteboard, gotta stop dreaming. It sounds heretical, we gotta stop praying, and we got to get out and actually do stuff. We gotta make some stuff happened, we gotta get out and try some things. We have a bias to action, if we're taking the risk that God is inviting us to take. We press through fear. Proverbs 26:13 the sluggard says the lion is always in the road. You got to get out, we've got to face those lions confront those lions, and get out, and do some stuff. Have the courage to take the risk that God is calling us towards.
And then assessment, we step back and say okay, what's working? What's not working? Assessment is taking all the planning that we done, and again we think about strategizing, and it gets a bad rap it's like read Proverbs. Planning and strategizing is loving well. God himself as compared to a master architect, a builder Psalm chapter 8 who laid the foundation of the universe., He builds. We are created in His image as builders and planted to love people well. So assessment humility, it's just stepping back to say hey I had these plans, these forecast. These predictions about what would happen. Now I know what actually is happening, I've actually lived in this community.
When we first moved in Indianapolis you have the little plot pieces if your church planter it's like maybe some of you geek out about it was my worst nightmare. I did not want to do the plot piece we were parachuters, so people would ask when we go to fundraise, where's your vision document? I don't know I've never lived in Indy. I don't have a vision, like I've been out I don't have a strategy. I don't know what we're doing I just know we're going to see the gospel. What does that look like? I don't know, I've never been a Hoosier. I've never lived north of the Ohio River. I don't know this community, so we called the first year, year zero. We stopped talking about launching a church and people would be like when are you launching your church, and I would say we have nothing to lunch. We have no people, we have no money, we have nothing to launch. So we've just got to focus on loving and listening and learning.
Then as we begin to learn we try some things, we experiment, we take risks we do movie parks, movie nights in the park, and we pass out 5000 flyers and nobody shows up, and it's terrifying! And then we cry and then we come back, and we pray desperately. We go back out, and we access what's working what's not working in our community. Evaluate the quality of our efforts, trusting in the process James chapter 4, don't be presumptuous about the future, don't make these sweeping declarations. I remember reading a prospectus of a guy right when we got to Indy, all the guys that I planted with are all gone. I remember this one guy, had this prospectus, and he said we're going to lunch with 500 people and then it's six months we're going to have a thousand, and I'm going to organize them, and we're going to change the city I was like wow man I'm exhausted just listening to you right now.
Church planners, anxious church planners are exhausting people to be around. But like not being presumptuous, but God this is what we're asking for, this is what we're praying for. We know that you will redirect, that you will redefine, sometimes you object, but you're always going to redeem the plans that we make, and so we're going to submit these plans before you and humbly assess them and invite our community to assess them. And then ultimately that leads us to a place where we can then pivot. Like any organization there's pivot points, there's inflection points. You reach a place where you have a fork in the road, you can go this way and go that way. Question is which way do you go? Now here's the freedom, God is sovereign. So, like we really believe that then there are multiple ways we could go that are all good alternatives. Good narratives, good stories, so the question is not what's the best or the right, we have a lot of ones in our Network right way, the Godly way the biblical way there is no biblical way there is no like Godly way. There's as many ways as communities, and cities, and people who live in those, and inhabit the spaces.
So the question is not how do we do it right? It's how do we live in to the best that we can the narrative that God's called us to, and that could, there's like five different versions of that. I grew up, loved Hardy Boys, I did not live into the store that God's calling you to live in to faithfully, and make the best of what God has given you. So all of that leads us to a place where we can step back and say what does it look like for us to take this theological vision once we have an awareness of vision in the strategy we have the courage, what does it look like for a then to tackle this strategy the how of what we do? And so let me talk for a few minutes and then pause. Actually are there any questions about what I just said? It's a lot. But I think these if you don't get these things than these things don't make sense. Questions or comments?
Speaker 2: What about I'm not[inaudible 00:32:55] planning [inaudible 00:32:57]already existing and so [inaudible 00:33:03] providing vision. I'm still like [inaudible 00:33:12]church, but also expectation I'm leading this forward. What type of encouragement or, besides maybe the congregation maybe being patient with the new guy. I don't know if you have anything to in regards to that.
Speaker 1: Yeah I think it goes back to, it's not just understanding who you are. Avoid the tendency probably to make it declarations about who you're going to be or what you're going to do before you really know what God's doing.It really goes back, to like you know, Henry Blackaby. What's God doing, and then follow Him into what he's doing. I think one of the things I see church planters, by mistake I think we are prone to make his church planters because we tend to just we live in the world of exaggeration. We are vision sellers, we're that's kind of part and parcel of what you do is your casting the vision and calling people toward the future, but be careful that you don't oversell, because better to, like you know, it has been said a lot of times, to under-promise and over-deliver than under-deliver.
So yeah we have a big God and we have big desires. Be careful because if you cast a vision so specifically that this is how we're going to do it and this is what we're going and we're going to have x amount of people, and then what happens is 5 years down the road people begin to go, hey remember when you said when you first came, and they remember they're like recording machines, they're like DVRs. They just capture every word and no hang on to something and they get excited about, and that maybe you guys will use that to draw people into their movement, and then they never deliver on that. And then it becomes a point of frustration or bitterness or disillusionment down the road, because remember you said and this didn't happen.
I think this season for you is all about learning, what's got doing this in this context? What's the story? Like history matters, these people are embedded in a narrative, and so understanding the narrative and the brokenness and the beauty of that narrative, what are there you know what are their Idols? What are their hopes? What are their dreams? What are the pain points? What are the wounds? Then what does it look like for God to bring healing into the spaces? In a way it's deep and transformative right? Like we don't want to fall into Jeremiah, you know the prophet who proclaim peace and speak peace lightly to our people. So making sure that we have, in community, and in collaboration with learning and listening. Then we'll talk about little bit later about just the process of collaboration and how we draw others into that process with us.
We communicate honestly will give people space, would give voice to their fears and anxieties, their dreams. This is a long terms, again this is a process that's 40 years. What does it look like to begin to step into the stream of what God's doing? To be faithfully present in that over a really long period of time. Flourishing takes generations. God said I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Multiple generations, that's the kind of flourishing that were after as pastors, and so again that requires us to have a vision to stay and I would say that to, like if you're not planning on staying, don't do anything that I just said. Let the people be, and preach.
Tim: Brandon you [inaudible 00:36:37] repetitively. You said it takes 40 years, but knowing you as I do, it seems like you're in the third circle. Each time there's refinement, greater awareness, you've already said that the awareness piece is circular, but these other steps are circular as well. Right? So these are stops on a circle and you just keep going around and around and around right?
Speaker 1: I think you keep deepening, you kind of go through it, and then it depends and you deepen and you deepen and you deepen, so you're kinda in a sense, you know spiraling downward or upward, however you want to look at it. Yeah, there's a profound way to the process in a burden, but I think you're ultimately, there's cycles and that's kind of where I go to next. It's just to think about different reasons and different cycles. There's cycles and seasons to everything that we do, to our organization, to our churches. And so in different seasons you're going to have seasons of awareness. Or you're just sitting down in prayerful reflection, and you're like reading the imprecatory Psalms, and you're just hanging on.
I'm out of one of those seasons in the last couple years, where was just lots of prayer lots of self reflection, lots of anxiety, lots of fear for me personally, and we all got into this place where were all depressed. We need move out of awareness to like courage. We just need some Spirit led courage to get out and share the gospel and start boldly doing stuff. This is a season we're calling it season of grit right now. We kind of frame-up our years we have rallying cries for the year, and for us the rallying cry this year is just a year of grit. Like emotional and spiritual self-awareness can lead to paralysis and isolation. We want to make sure that we're also like pushing out into Mission, but if we're only pushing at into mission and we're not reflecting and refining, then that leads to burn on exhaustion.
I love Nowlen's language [inaudible 00:38:38] of pastors as contemplative activist. There's never a perfect state of like equilibrium, you're never going to nail it. You're always kind of like balancing back and forth so there's going to be seasons of activism and there's going to be seasons of contemplative. How do we hold those things? It's attention to be lived into. Not a problem to be solved. I think that's a cyclical seasonal nature to all of this stuff. The question then becomes, what's God's one invitation maybe for me? I have a day of solitude every month and the one question that I keep at the top of my notebook is, what is the one invitation from my Father? In this season? I feel the weight of all of these things simultaneously, and I really dark places.
Speaker 4: This is probably kinda a strategy question, but how much of physical awareness ... how much of that should we put in front of our people[inaudible 00:39:41].
Speaker 1: I think that this is not like gospel, so it's just a method to think about, a way to kind of organize mentally, emotionally, and organizationally.How you work people through a process. I teach this I teach this. I teach this to our church. I talk to verbs and everything I just shared with you in our vision series. And that's part of what organizational transitions. We gotta communicate this stuff. We gotta give, people need mental hooks to hang things on, and people can only process, and Tim probably made this up, but people can only handle one or two major transitions. Did you get that from somewhere or was that you just that's been your observation right? A lot of good learnings there one or two major changes at a time. We think about organizational transition, this just gives us a way to think about where are we, kind of the cycle of what God's doing in our leaders.
For some it's might just be helpful to say hey this is an assessment, just chill out. Quit asking me all this I don't know I mean how many times have I had the same as a planted as one of those freeing things you can say to a church planning team, when are we starting a service? I don't know. I don't have the answers, like God does, but I don't. So let's just wait, let's pray. We try to teach I teach this to our staff, I teach this to our church paying residence. I would say it's been the most helpful thing in terms of giving people cuz you can just feel lost. Ligon Duncan I was out at [inaudible 00:41:20] I'm on the board there. I was out there last week, and he brought to light something I've never seen before, the book of Numbers is the lamest English translation of what the Hebrew actually means. The word for the book of Numbers, said nobody in the book of Numbers, the Hebrew for Numbers is into the wilderness. He goes, imagine how many more men would do preaching series in Numbers if we knew that the book was actually, in Hebrew, called into the wilderness.
It can feel like that in planting, you can feel like you've been dropped in the wilderness and you're like doing one of those like military, you know, rescue and survivor things. You're eating bugs and just trying to figure things out. So, like for me it's been super helpful just to have a way to think about, you know, where am I? What is this process like? How do we continue to organize and think through where God has us. Charles.
Charles: You said strategies changes in its time so that mixes with my faithful perseverance, patience, pastoral mentality, but I also [inaudible 00:42:22] strategy wise. [inaudible 00:42:28] If you have an example of that and just ...
Speaker 1: Yeah so for me I'll give like two examples, one we started planting in the suburbs. About two years after trying to plow concrete, we had come like a Robin Hood v.ision We're going to take from the rich and give to the poor. About a year-and-a-half in I realized Hamilton County, which is the wealthiest most affluent small town, medium-sized town, in the country, they didn't care about Marion County. I actually live in Hamilton County I began to realize I don't really like it here a whole lot. Even though I've been training Suburban Ministry, God was doing something in my wife and I and was stirring up fresh desires for a different kind of context. So we had kind of this like Macedonia moment where God just said, "Hey I know like this has been your strategy, and you thought this was going to work. It's actually not working let's just acknowledge that, and I'm a redirect you."
He brought some people from the city, who actually literally came to me and said, "This church you're trying to planT in Hamilton County needs to be planted in Broad Ripple." W said okay, like God whatever, you know. Lots tears, and lots of self-reflection, and self-doubt, and like did I hear from God wrong? No, God's always refining, and so I think if we can walk with an open hand we begin to see okay, when it's been said in leadership that people don't change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. You'll know when it's time to let go Richard Rohr says, like the process of becoming a mature adult [inaudible 00:43:54] use Richard Rohr's name but whatever, he's got some great books. I know he's kinda a [inaudible 00:43:57] on the trinity now, but we don't believe in flow at Sojourn Networks that would qualify that, but he's got some helpful stuff on his book The Return of Adam for instance. He says in that book that the process of becoming an adult is the process of learning to recognize you don't know the future. What you need to learn is to let go.
I think that's a lot of church planting is again, we have lots of people who value what's right and true. And we like certainty, we like fixed points, we like algorithms, we like formulas, we like to kind of think that we know the future, right? Which in the Old Testament it's called witch craft. Like predicting the future is witchcraft. So we just humbly say God we don't know the future. We know that you're in control of the future. Our theological vision says one day you win, but in the end in the interim like we're just we're developing these strategies. But if we're honest, what is a strategy?
It sounds really great to call it a system. It's a guess. So, could we just, maybe we should just stretch be like we're going to get organizational guessing. Instead of forecasting, we're fore guessing. Cuz we have no idea. We didn't know one of our kids on our Pastoral team, he planted a church with us, his kid would have autism. We didn't know that when we planted the church. That changes your strategy, because now we need to learn at a pace that acknowledges this Brother's God given limitation. We need to change some things about how we're doing church, to love this guy well. We didn't know that.
We had a number of those pivots along the way, where we had those assumptions, we testes those assumptions against reality. God refined our reality and showed us a different reality. Then we had to adapt to what God was doing. It's a scary place, because it strips you of the delusion of control. It's actually a place of humility, a place of desperation. You cry out to God like you have never have before in your life, because you realize, you move to competency, which is like your 20's and 30's, to communion, which is like the rest of your life. God I'm depending on you, I'm desperate for your presence, if you don't show up, you know Exodus, I don't want to go.
That's the reality of the Christian leader. It's, man God help us, we don't know what we're doing. We're going to try some things, and we're going to [inaudible 00:46:24] with our desires, our hopes, our dreams, and our failures. Recognizing that God sometimes, you're gonna scatters those things. In order to gather [inaudible 00:46:32] God scatters to gather. And he gathers to scatter. And so if we allow that creative process, it can actually lead us to a place of creativity, to a place of imagination, to a place of renewal. A place of change, which is so terrifying for many of us. That place of isolation, where we feel alone, when we don't have any allies.
That can be a creative prophetic space. Balance can be the greatest gift you can give to your community sometimes, is your isolation, is your loneliness. It's in that place that God renews your commitment to Him. As you withdraw you reengage. You bring fresh strategies and fresh ideas, and fresh desires to the community. So, yeah I feel like, I don't know, whenever the pain points become obvious, if may be a time to step back and say hey maybe God is breaking us to a new awareness of something that's not working. Let's not, you know, we moralize things so easily. We spiritualize things. So we spiritualize missional communities, we spiritualize our strategies. We confuse strategies with vision.
Remember we talked at FA you had the challenge of meeting on Sunday nights, and your context, and I remember us talking about that. And you were like man I hate to abandon that because I feel like a failure. I was like nah you just tried something. Why do we moralize gathering time? Why do moralize certain styles of worship. Why do we moralize certain size dynamics? Right? You can be a healthy mega church, or you can be super unhealthy house church and vise versa. So, again, just not confusing categories and making sure that we're not invoking God language when God's not giving us permission to do that.
Speaker 6: SO it sounds like you're saying you can have some comfort in changing your strategies, as long as you're certainly hanging on to your vision.
Speaker 1: Yeah, hold tightly to your vision, open handed with your strategy. Don't reverse. Don't get addicted to change. That's the other thing I see with guys. Some of us are so entrepreneurial that we'll try something for three months and be like ah it's not working. It's been three months it might takes years for that strategy to work itself out. There's a balance between so change adverse that you're terrified of change and being change addicted. I think the latter is probably true the younger you are, generally. It's easier to get addicted to change and constantly be changing and people can't handle that. Especially the larger your church gets the slower you have to go. That's why a lot of guys come into revitalization situation and they blow the church up because they just want to change everything right now. You have this sense of urgency and intensity.
So, it's not that your people aren't spiritual, it's just that you're being a jerk. Just slowing down and recognizing again, this is a long haul. Yeah, hold on to your vision and be open hand with your strategy. Tim?
Tim: As you're talking, I think there's another dynamic [inaudible 00:49:33].Something I'll speak about later.
Speaker 1: I see what you're doing. You're co branding in here. You're, this afternoon.
Tim: I was just tagging on you, Brother. The idea is this there's complexity, it's like an atmosphere, a pressure in which, [inaudible 00:49:52]. It's complexity is just this piece that is just there. You can be going through this process that you'll never understand. Because you have complexity, you call it pain points, things that are happening whether related to growth, or relational dynamics, whatever it is the complexities are constantly changing. They're pressing in, they're squeezing you, and they're creating chaos. Where you're trying to create order out of chaos. And when you get there, it's not like we've arrived because it's still goin to press in, and you're going to have fresh dynamic opportunities and complexity. So, it seems like the way that, I like the what you said about organizational guessing. Maybe it's guessing the first time around. After a while it becomes organizational experimenting. Which is a little different than guessing. Guessing you try to grasp at straws earlier, but now you said I got some experience I've tried this. So now we're going to experiment. So, that's the point I'm talking about, just the complexity, especially that accompanies growth.
Speaker 1: So, I'll just boot off that, I'll tag back off of you. The last little bit here I want to talk about the cyclical and seasonal nature. We're here to talk about transitions and to recognize that no organization is static. There's always a dynamic at work, we're always changing, always growing. So, let me share, I think one the keys to organizational transition is diagnoses where you are in the life, in the season, in the cycle. So, we tend to think of organizational life, we're kinda going to camp down on these two here from here forward.
We tend to think organizational life is chaotic and unpredictable. It's always fairly predictable. Transitions are fairly predictable. People have been writing about organizational transitions for decades. One of my favorite books that I've read on this, a guy who is kinda the expert on organizational transitions and cooperate life cycles is a guy named Ichak Adizes. He has a really cool name. He runs the Adizes Institute out West. He's written a book called Managing Corporate Lifecycles, he's written a number of books. Some of what I'm going to share comes out of that, as we think about pivoting and inerating, and changing. One of the things Adizes says is we're always changing. Change is built in to the nature and the fabric and work and the wolf of the world of which we live. So, he says in nother words, when you stop changing what happens? You die. Anything that's not changing is in the process of dying. Or is already dead. That's what the call rigamortis. When you stop changing you die, and it's the same thing with organizations.
Organizations are always changing. Change should be embraced. If you don't like change, don't lead a organization. It will drive you crazy because change is always happening. Change in a organization doesn't mean we get rid of all the problems. We like to think, if we can just, here's the myth, if I can just solve this problem then everything will be okay. What happens? You solve this problem and Joe says, it's like wack-a-mole. You deal with the vampire, and you've got the one on the other side.
Growing up and maturing as an organization doesn't mean getting past all your problems. Growing up means being able to handle bigger and more complexed problems. More predictably. That's the organizational maturity that we're after. And so complexity, and by complexity I mean pace, like a fast pace, scope, lik a scope and scale of resources. That's what creates complexity in an organization. Here's the thing for congregations, complexity is the enemy of obedience. It's an enemy, not the only one. An enemy of obedience. The more complex it is, the more you find yourself having to qualify, nuance, if you're preaching sermons and people are just saying, I just don't get it. If that's happening frequently, and you're talking about your vision and people can't get easy access, like normal ordinary human being can't get easy access to your vision and to the pathways to grab a hold of your vision, then we're doing it wrong. Right?
Organizational complexity, specifically if you're talking about multi site, I mean, plurality is one form of complexity when you think about a community, a diversity, a parody of diverse elders. There's a complexity there. Think about a movement of churches. A movement of churches, if you're a multi site, you're an interdependent movement of interdependent pastors. That's exponential complexity. Just be aware of that and as we're thinking about, where trying to do is take something complex and make it simple. That's the art of organizational leadership, is taking complex ideas and being able to explain this to your children. You oughta be able to explain this to a 75 year old in your church. That's what we're after, is that kind of clarity. Because clarity and simplicity leads to amplified ownership. So if we clarify and simplify we amplify the impact of our vision in people's lives cuz now they can see it. They can visualize it for themselves. Then they can go obey the things we've asked them to do.
We get frustrated, and what I'm finding is I get frustrate at people, like why are you not living on mission? You guys are sinful, stiff neck, you know, you're a sinful stiff neck generation. We're in like Acts 7 being all prophetic. And it's like no your vision doesn't make sense. Some of our biggest frustrations in or organizations are simply a reflection of our lack of clarity. Peter [inaudible 00:55:43] said one time in management that our biggest frustrations with our employees is not the employee it's a frustration with ourselves. We've promoted them to a place where they shouldn't be, we've not been clear in delineating their responsibilities, and the authority we've given them, and our expectations of what the win looks like.
All of this to say we need to pursue clarity and simplicity. Change is predictable. Adizes said, everything has a life cycle. Everything has a season. Everything is either [inaudible 00:56:19] part or being put back together. [inaudible 00:56:23] and you're being put back together. What got you here is not what's going to get you there. What is your 50's? Falling a part and being put back together. Same thing with the body, we're falling apart and being put back together. Every single day there's a super natural process. Your body falls apart, and it's put back together in the sovereignty of God, using the systems of the body that God's put in to place. That's organizational life cycle.
The challenge of leadership is to be changing continuously and always remaining a coherent hole. So we're constantly changing, and we're holding together the organizational systems and structures and process, and job descriptions, and strategic plans, and ministry budgets, and all the complexities of what goes into a healthy organization, which leads us towards healthy and mature congregations . Adizes says that every life cycle, every season, there's going to things that are normal and there's going to be things that are abnormal, and there's going to be things that are pathological.
Problems in infancy, I'll just give you the words then we'll circle back on this, in the next session and I'll talk about what the specific looks like at Soma. There's a couple different phases, and I've kinda adapted these, some of his terminology is kinda not helpful. Courtship, infancy, childhood, adolescents, which is exactly what it sounds like. Prime, aging and death essentially. Aging decline and death. So the problems you're going to have to courtship, are going to be different than the problems that you have in infancy, and that's okay.
If you're in infancy just embrace and life into the season of life that God has you. Don't try and be an adolescent, don't try to be an adult, when the worst things you can do to an infant is over structure certain things with them. The worst thing you can do to a child is say why don't you act more like an adult? Because they're a child! And Jesus said the kingdom of God is such as these, right? Jesus even said some adults need to become more like children. My point is there are normal things here, so the question is what's normal and what's abnormal?
Abnormal things are those things that are gonna require coaching, the building of cultivation of increase capacity . Sometimes they're going to require outside, external intervention. We're gonna have to invite others into the mess with us, because we have no idea what we're doing, and we just need to have the honesty to say hey help I'm struggling. I'm drowning. I don't know what I'm doing. This is not normal.
Pathological are those things that threaten the existence of that thing in that season. A normal thing is a normal thing, and we transition to the next stage. An abnormal thing needs to be dealt with, or it becomes a pathological thing, which can threaten the existence of the organization.
Next session we will come back and unpack these different cycles. Then I want to talk through how we can, so Soma Church as a whole has been, is moving from a season, from childhood to adolescents. This is where we're at as an organization. So what does it look like, I'm going to give you a case study using Soma on some of the ways we diagnose the season that we're in and what it looks like, and what the difference are between these cycles. And then how we then take the organizational transitions that we're experiencing and ultimately pour it into here, so we have healthy churches. It's not just about figures out the organization, it's about figuring out the organization so that the theological vision gets connected to congregational health and that people can live fully and freely, into the mission that God's calling them in to. That'll be at 2:45. What time is our afternoon session? 2:45? 2:45-3:35, somewhere in this building. So, yeah.