One of the first things I did on coming to Trinity a year ago was begin working toward structural change. In our denomination, a structure is in effect dictated–via the bylaws–to the local church. The result? Structure dictates, controls, modulates and limits vision. It becomes the lid. Vision has to come, hat in hand, to Structure and say “Can I play please?”
What I find both fascinating and frustrating is that our core theology is all about change. And if a leader is changing and growing, then what he/she is leading will be changing and growing. The result, on paper, should be a continuous culture of innovation, reproduction and growth. But it’s not. Somehow, the dictated structure has limited this. So instead of having a bottom-up culture of innovation, we have an accepted top-down culture of dictation. Sound familiar?
Since leaders define culture, I’ve used these two diagrams repeatedly in talking to the church’s leaders to describe how things are to be if vision leads.
Vision is supported by strategy that is undergirded by the structure.
Without vision, the default vision becomes maintaining the structure. This isn’t due to bad motives, evil hearts or power hungry church bosses (though that can also happen). When a default vision reigns, things end up looking like this:
Vision is suffocated by structure. Strategy is reduced to “making sure things are taken care of” (budgets paid, money controlled, risks minimized). The settlers move in and pioneers move on. And in this environment, people perish, throw off restraint and lose hope. Inevitably words are exchanged. People are hurt. Chaos begins to erupt.
And here’s the kairos–the moment of opportunity–for me as a leader; this upending of vision happens without anyone really noticing. Most people are doing their best, in this structure, to serve faithfully. So to question the structure can be seen as questioning motive and intent. And while changing structure is good and necessary–the real structure to be changed is the human heart. And the question I’ll look at next: How do you help someone process the human heart and all its subterranean chambers?