Last week i went to Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit, which was really inspiring. After a rousing opening message by Bill Hybels, the next session didn’t look very promising. The speaker, Gary Hamel, was recently ranked as the world’s most influential business thinker, and the last thing I want the church to become is “more business-y”. But this revolutionary in CEO clothing blew me away.
His premise was that the world is changing faster than our churches are, and we need to re-examine everything. Most of our churches have become “weekly convocations for the converted and content”, and our tired systems have tethered us to a world that is fading away – while the present world needs us more than ever! His prophetic words stirred me deeply.
Out of this passion, he offered four suggestions. . .
(1) Fight denial. “Deal with the future by facing the facts. Question your beliefs. Listen to renegades. Humility is not a virtue, but a survival strategy.”
(2) Generate more options. “We clutch to the familiar because we can’t see compelling alternatives. Don’t rush to closure. . .make change feel more exciting than standing back.”
(3) Deconstruct what we already do. “We’re in a race to uncover and challenge our orthodoxies. We need to learn to be contrarians. The longer we’re in the trenches, the more we mistake the edge of our rut for the horizon.”
(4) Flatten your organization. “Top down structures will not last. Organizations fail when the mental models of the leadership team depreciate faster than their authority. (take a moment to read that again and let it sink in!) It’s dangerous in a world of change to give a few people a monopoly on decision making. Is the challenge finding great leaders or building organizations that can survive without super humans at the front? Is there any alternative? The leaders job today is less in vision, command, and control and more focused on mobilizing, connecting and supporting.
This generation doesn’t want to work for a Fortune 500 company and I’m not sure they want to go to a church that looks like one. Churches have been trying to turn themselves into businesses while businesses are trying to turn themselves into causes.”
I can’t tell you how inspiring these ideas are to me. A friend of mine says that despair is “believing that tomorrow is just an extension of today.” I feel that way sometimes. . .especially about church and our current practice of Christianity. Many people are trying to repaint an old building, but it seems to me like this may be the time to build something new. We need to listen to prophets like Gary Hamel. Let’s find (blaze?) a path into a new day.
p.s. If any of this resonates with you, make sure you pick up a copy of his DVD here (or just wait until someone posts it on YouTube).