The Fear of Looking and Organizational Intelligence

imagesEvery winter, with just the right amount of cabin fever,  I seem to muster up the courage to try to watch some kind of scary movie.  Predictably each time, I am crunched down in my seat in the middle of some horrifying scene, hands over my face, listening, but not really listening, to what is happening. When the scene is over, I will then, without fail, turn to my husband and say “what happened?”

Perhaps one of the most common things in working with churches that we hear is trepidation about what the Organizational Intelligence will find.   This fear can lead the church and its leadership to miss key pieces of its ministry and what is happening.   One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in litigation is to find my case’s weakest part – then take that weakest part head on and address it.  Do it before the opposing counsel gets to it or the judge notices it.    As an attorney this helps you control the narrative, and, hopefully, set the course for how your client’s story will play out.

It is simple advice really, but it is not instinctive.  It takes the old adage “find their weakness and exploit it” and turns it on its head.  It instead forces you to know your weakness, face it, and grow from there.   Perhaps most surprisingly, in my experience, acknowledging the weakness and calling it what it is can help focus move onto what is strong and where the greatest potential lies.

As someone new to this work, to me, this is what Organization Intelligence does. It takes out all of the guesswork. It removes the hands from the eyes and makes you watch the entire movie.  With this new whole vision, Organizational Intelligence places the control for the course of action back in the hands of the congregation and its leadership.  It helps churches discover what their weaknesses are and gives them an opportunity to turn those weakness with their strengths into instruments for change.   And what can come out of this intelligence and this new direction is something we, at Holy Cow! Consulting, get to see everyday.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6.

Emily Swanson

President, Holy Cow! Consulting

Organizational Intelligence and Satisfaction

The word “satisfy” gets mixed reviews in the Bible.

The Psalms speak of satisfaction as a way that God connects to his people. In Psalm 90:14, the writer entreats “Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalms 145:16 expands this thought to include other creatures: “You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Other passages are not so sanguine. Paul sees the desire to satisfy others as an obstacle. “For do I now seek to satisfy men or God?” he asks in Galatians. As a tool of political expediency, we stray into the realm of the demonic. Mark tells us that “Pilate, wishing to satisfy the mob, released Barabbas for them, and after scourging Jesus handed Him over for crucifixion.”

In my experience, satisfaction in a church is rarely achieved by appealing to the mob, primarily because there are multiple mobs! What satisfies one mob alienates another! Satisfaction is achieved by fulfilling a mission that does not ignore human desires but transcends them.

I learned this as the founder of a project in Honduras caring for abandoned HIV children. Thousands of people have now gone to work at that project. For most, the experience involved immunizations, anti-malaria tablets, physical labor in dehydrating hot weather with mosquitos, scorpions, poisonous snakes, and cold or no showers at the end of the day. And folks had to pay over a $1,000 to boot! There wasn’t much “pandering to the mob”, but over 95% would say they were satisfied with the experience and the majority would say it was life-altering.

There is a satisfaction that is coveted as a primary goal in life to be achieved through a direct, frontal assault on the rest of the universe. It is its own reward.

There is another kind of satisfaction that is a by-product of other activities, like happiness is a by-product and can never be achieved by “trying to be happy.” Churches that land in the transformation quadrant are generally filled with members who have clarity about a mission that transcends them and draws them into an alternative reality where the Gospel is plausible and compelling.

Russ Crabtree
Contributing Author
Holy Cow! Consulting