While on holidays I read Jim Collins Good to Great
and it was sensational!
Basically what he does is a rigorous survey of companies that have way excelled in productivity and profit by comparison with other similar companies and asks what makes them great and the others just ‘good’.
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
He states clearly that its a book based on concrete research and empirical data – not what the authors feel might be a good bet.
On that note here is what he has discovered. This might take a while so I’ll do it over a few days. For those of us in churches we could learn a lot from this list…
1. A specific kind of leadership is essential. He calls it ‘level 5 leadership’ characterised by deep humility and indomitable determination.
In several places he used the phrase ‘servant leadership’. Essentially he is saying the leader needs to be one who has low ego needs and sees it as his mission to do what’s best for the company regardless of how it makes him look. The best level 5 leaders are often relative ‘no-bodies’ in terms of fame (I had never heard of the list he mentioned!) but their companies have excelled.
By contrast level 4 leadership relies on the charisma and personality strength of the leader. The end result of level 4 leadership is that when said leader finishes up the company usually experiences a decline in performance. He is ‘the man’. Level 5 leaders make many people great and can disappear leaving a functioning company.
He suggests that if we look for the ‘next great leader’ to come in and rescue us then we will disappointed, but if we find that combination of humility and unswerving determination then we might have a chance.
This is a bit of mantra for me as I talk about church with people.
When it comes to ‘what works?’ I agree that your meat and three veg (sing and listen) Sunday service does ‘work’ for some people. The stats would show maybe 10% of our population.
That is a sizable chunk.
But 90% is a signficantly more sizable chunk… And within that 90 there are probably 50 who think what we do on Sundays is anything from slightly lame to totally ridiculous (no matter how we funk it up.)
Some days I really feel at all at sea with what we are doing and I seriously question whether it will make a difference at all. Are we just kidding ourselves? in making it up as we go are we going to make a mess? The fact is that the path we have chosen may actually prove less fruitful than the path chosen by 99% of our ‘meat and potatoes’ churches.
But what keeps me going in my moments of doubt (can you tell I’m having one?!) is the fact that someone, somehow, has to ‘have a go’. Someone somewhere has to leave plan A and move on to plan B, C, D, W until we begin to discover new ways of being and doing church that resonate with the communities we live in – with the people who think churches are for nutbags.
I’m not one for failure – I hate to make a mess of things or come out at the end of the day with nothing to show for my efforts, but I know that’s a very real possibility for those of us who have chosen to take the missionary route.
I’m grateful for all my Forge mates and fellow missionaries who help me keep focused on the goal when I feel like dropping the ball and sticking with the 10%.
I actually don’t think I could look away now. I don’t think I could honestly say ‘let someone else figure that one out. I’l just run a church’. My focus has shifted too much.
But will it ‘work’?’
Dunno… dunno… sure hope so… but it might not…
The last post has been deleted – second thoughts seemed like better thoughts…
Every now and then I write first think later…
Now that I think…
We have 6 embryos on ice… Sound weird?
We start our next round of IVF soon.
People often ask me “what happens if all 6 turn into little people?”
“Ummm… we have 8 kids?”
When you decide that conception is the start of life then you don’t have an option to dispose of the embryos, so we need to give each of them a shot.
It may mean we have 8 kids (a bridge I will cross when I come to it) but more likely we will have at best one more.
Embryos have a 70% chance of unfreezing ‘live’ (4 of the 6 will survive the thaw) and then only a 20% chance of successful implantation so only 1 of those 4 is likely to make the cut on a good day.
I am really content with two kids. and that would be my idea number. I reckon I could also be happy with 3 or 4 or even 8 if it came to that.
I guess we’ll know soon!
If you happen to get into Amway and haven’t spoken to me for 12 months, but then call me to see if we could ‘catch up’ so you could show me a great new ‘business plan’ I will probably not have a lot of time for you.
Its been 13 months now since we left Lesmurdie – 13 months of very little routine and lots of chaos.
As a result my well oiled personal disciplines have shot out the window and I haven’t been able to retrieve them at all. I have stopped running and pushing weights, I have been eating more than ever and spiritual disciplines are feeling more like spiritual options.
When I am out of control I actually feel lousy because for me it generally equates to laziness or (surprise surprise) undisciplined living. It has been genuinely hard to get into an exercise routine because every time I start to run again my back plays up, or my knees hurt (scary!) and food is probably my greatest weakness. If you can lust after pizza then that’d be me!
I have made a few lame attempts to re-order my life over the last 6 months. They have started poorly and finished quickly. At last though we seem to have established some kind of order to our lives.
So… it really is time to say ‘enough’s enough’. Danelle and I spoke about it on our holiday and decided to make personal health and fitness a really high priority from now until Christmas to see if we can both get back on track.
It means some other things won’t get done and we will have to choose to forgo some of the other pleasures we are fond of, but things have got fairly critical.
At the end of the day its all about the choices we make and we have made some bad ones. Its time to stop…
I was reading Timothy this morning and that familiar verse struck me again ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self control’ I reckon I could do with a bit more of that self control.
Michelle, closely followed by Justin.
When I came back to my bloglines feed and checked the number of posts to read from each person on there Michelle topped out with 39 in the the last 14 days and Justin had 34. Lotsa writing from these guys!!
Of course where there are winners there are loooosers and my good mate Gaz , one of the current crop of Forge interns is the one to let the side down with just one miserable post in the last fortnight. I know you’re going to blame it on the new job Gaz, but that’s pretty lame mate. Priorities!
Surprisingly Phil and Dan only had 6 posts the whole time I was gone. Looks like life is speeding up with that new church building up hey Phil?
Darren , normally a pretty high output guy, had a decent 20 posts, but that’s probably because he also had 20 posts on his other 13 blogs!
Another surprise (if my stats are right) is that Luke has pulled his blogging finger out and is at it again – 24 posts in 2 weeks is a pretty good effort for a young lawyer.
Now that I’ve collated the stats I might read what some of you have to say!
Holidays are over…
They were great, and I am even ready to come back – but the next few weeks are looking hellish in the diary department. Makes me want to run away at the thought of it!
Some holiday highlights
* Hanging with Danelle, Ellie and Sam – really nice to spend the time and just have fun together away from the rest of life.
* Reading – I finished the Da Vinci Code and I’m not sure what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t a bad novel, but it was just a novel! I also read Good to Great by Jim Collins. What an excellent book for churches to read. I’ll have more to say on that one soon! As well as that I read two books on fishing – I need all the help I can get.
* Eating way too much good food and drinking lots of good wine. Funnily enough the lousiest wine of the entire time was the most expensive…
* Spending the last 3 nights in luxury after 10 days of very basic accomodation – very nice!
* Watching all 16 Kath and Kim episodes – what a hoot! But a bit scary when your three year old starts asking if she can watch Kath and Kim in her rest time rather than Bananas in Pajamas!
* Catching up with Graeme and Sharron Mason and fam – two good friends we love sharing life with. Its always nice to be with people you don’t need to impress in any way.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a surf the whole time I was there – not because of the shark concerns (I reckon if you don’t surf because there are sharks then you shouldn’t drive a car – much greater chance of getting killed!) but because I couldn’t get the board in the car…
Probably just as well as the swell was humungous for the first week or so and I could well have done myself some damage out there!
We got back Saturday arvo and this morning we headed up to our home church Lesmurdie where we got to share some of the Brighton story.
Today I am clearing the email backlog…
Tomorrow – first day back at work – Mark and I are going fishing… Nice work if you can get it hey!?
I don’t think I have ever been this ready for a holiday!
Today I taught my classes and then finished the day by playing in the staff student basketball game. Wow! I can still feel it.
We lost by 1 point to the students, but what struck me was how much harder it is when you haven’t played for a couple of years. I used to be a decent basketballer. Now…
From there it was off the Merriwa Tavern for a drink before heading to the local youth group to see what they are up to. I have been in touch with them and offered to give them a hand if they need it – not in being there each week, (I think I’d kill someone!) but in ideas, training leaders etc.
When I got home at 6.30 I was a little weary…
Roll on tomorrow – 2 weeks away in the south west of WA and the weather is even looking really good.
I might pen some thoughts while I am away – if I get bored – then again I rarely get bored so might see you in two weeks
At lunch time today the conversation turned to church, which is quite unusual for us, even though we are teachers at a Christian school.
As staff members each person (I discovered) has to get an annual report from their pastor stating that they are a regular attendee at worship services.
We began to discuss the implications of this…
The assumption seems to be that attendance at worship indicates all is well spiritually with the person and of course vice versa. I know I have made that assumption as a pastor at times. Its pretty dumb really. On the plus side it does offer some degree of assessment as to whether they are in community with other believers.
Then we began to discuss how often ‘regular’ is… I offered the thought that having been a pastor of a church I grew to ‘expect the average punter to front up once every three weeks or so. Not that often, but it seems to be more and more the trend’. The days of weekly Sunday AM and PM attendance are long gone for most people.
Should we expect more?… I know I did, but was more often than not disappointed…
We began to discuss a church plant that one teacher is a part of – which is an offshoot and still under the leadership and authority of the mother ship. It sounded like church by remote control. ‘Ah… a franchise?’ I suggested…
‘Andrew you make the church sound like a business with this talk of punters and franchises!’
It wasn’t intentional, but its funny what cynicism lays latent ready to rear up!