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 Energy

We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it. – Jon Gordon

UnknownIn his book, The Energy Bus, author Jon Gordon makes the case that organizational energy is fundamental to the success of any enterprise. We agree. Energy represents one of two bottom line measurements of church vitality (the other being satisfaction).

There are three characteristics of energy: intensity, pace, and endurance. High energy churches are enthusiastically engaged in their mission, they move their mission forward from ideas to action without miring down, and they sustain efforts over the long term in a manner that is self-replicating.   One of the mistakes that churches make with regard to energy is the failure to distinguish between baseline energy functions and premium energy functions.

Baseline energy functions are those that people expect a church to exhibit as a minimum requirement. Research indicates that these include competent leadership, positive relationships, a safe and comfortable environment, and the fair treatment of individuals and groups. Baseline energy functions can only take a church so far. Once people feel good about the relationships within the church, passing the peace an extra time in worship won’t generate higher energy.

Premium energy functions are those that build on baseline energy functions and take energy to levels that people experience as exceptional. Premium energy functions include:

· Helping members and groups make significant achievements related to the mission
· Matching the gifts and motivations of members to ministry assignments
· Celebrating member and group contributions to the mission
· Offering members and groups opportunities for personal growth and development

When churches have low comparative scores in the area of hospitality, leaders often object that only a small percentages of folks are on the negative side of the questions. What they fail to realize is people today expect a church to have excellent relationships among themselves and guests. When a significant number of respondents are on the fence, a church will generally have difficulty generating baseline energy, and it becomes nearly impossible to generate the high level of energy that makes a church “hum” with spiritual electricity.

Russ Crabtree

Founder of Holy Cow! Consulting