Organized Religion’s ‘Management Problem’‏

I recently stumbled upon an article entitled “Organized Religion’s ‘Management Problem’” by management author and consultant Gary Hamel.

Apparently, Hamel was recently a guest speaker at Willow Creek Community Church “Leadership Summit”. The article I stumbled upon was a summary of his talk…

Anyway, a few things jumped out at me while I was reading Hamel’s article. The first item cam pretty quick as it was his hypothesis:

The problem with organized religion isn’t that it’s too religious, but that it’s too organized.

Wow! Talk about a bomb shell – especially concerning he was speaking at Willow Creek, which, as you probably know, has been America’s poster child for church management.

From that bombshell onward the article just kept getting better:

Critically, morality is only one generation deep, so unless we want our children to live in a bleak world, we must replenish the stock of spiritual capital we inherited from our parents and grandparents. In theory, at least, churches are allies in this effort.

Fact is, organized religion hasn’t been doing too well recently, at least not in the developed world.

The Christian “brand” has also taken a beating, particularly among young people. When polled, around half say they have a neutral view of Christianity, but among those who feel more strongly, the ratio of negative to positive views of “Christianity” and of those who are “Born Again” is 2:1. And when asked about “Evangelicals,” the ratio of negative to positive jumps to 16:1.

Ok…I’m out of breath…dude, this guy isn’t pulling any punches! =/

We are now at the end of the article….let us see what he has to say:

Organizations lose their relevance when the rate of internal change lags the pace of external change. And that’s the problem that besets many churches today.

Your (the church) problem isn’t unique, and it isn’t materialism, atheism, skepticism or relativism—it’s institutional inertia. And if it makes you feel better, it’s not entirely your fault. Like leaders everywhere, you’ve been mugged by change.

Moreover, it’s usually necessary to decapitate the old leadership team before an organization can embark on a new course. In other words, fundamental change in large organizations happens the same way it happens in poorly governed dictatorships—belatedly, infrequently and convulsively. And that’s pathetic. It shouldn’t take the organizational equivalent of a deathbed experience to spur renewal. We need to change the way we change.

As a new pastor and leader within “American Christianity”, I can see this exact issue. In fact, it is one of the great issues with the Vineyard Movement as the first and second generation leaders try to pass on their churches and ministries to the third and fourth generation.

It is hard. Which is why I agree with Hamel’s conclusion:

We need to change the way we change. That is SO true!!