One of my favorite blogs to monitor is Accidental Creative. Todd Henry wrote a brilliant article recently about the danger of implementing permanent solutions to temporary problems. This quote grabbed my attention:
“The more structures we have to navigate in order to do our work, the more difficult it is to do our best work. When we are required to resolve the dissonance of complex systems, reporting relationships and accountability structures just in order to get our objectives and check off our direction we will begin to lose our drive to do brilliant work. Over time, this complexity only pulls entire organizations toward systematic mediocrity.”
We’ve had this conversation recently. Remember the post about the five attributes of a church in decline? One of those attributes was complex structure. The natural tendency of organizations is to add complexity to their structure and systems. The longer an organization exists, the more complex it typically gets. (Think government, big business, denominations…and older churches.)
One of the reasons why I think new church plants are so effective reaching new people is because they are typically very lean. The structure is simple. The ministry strategy is very focused. The mission is clear. Then, as the church ages, the ministry strategy gets more complex as multiple new programs and events get layered on. Eventually growth slows or plateaus as the complexity increases, and then our solution is new structure or systems or rules to fix the problem.
If there’s a problem, our natural tendency is never to do less — we always try something new.
If there’s a problem, our natural tendency is to increase controls — we think people are the problem and we implement rules and policies to make sure they get it right.
What if the solution to the problem is fewer controls? What if the fix is less complexity?
Are you willing to get focused and lean again?