Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why be Great?

I just finished reading Good to Great by Jim Collins and it really kind of wrecked me. There's really too much to go into in this post (but if you want to take me to lunch, I'll give you the full breakdown), but let me hit ya with this: Sometimes, especially in the churches I grew up in, I remember people talking about stuff in the church by using the phrase "good enough" -- the music was "good enough," the bulletins were "good enough," the work environment was "good enough," the ugly teal green carpet and pews were "good enough," etc. One of the things that has really changed in the church environment in the last 20 years is that you don't hear "good enough" as much anymore in churches. Most churches (at least ones that are growing) really strive to do things with as much excellence as they can muster. However, the one area that I sense a lot of "good enough" thinking is when it comes to church managment, leadership, staffing, etc. -- "that staff member isn't great, but they're 'good enough,'" or "our visioncasting and ability to meet goals is 'good enough,'" or "our employee retention is 'good enough,'" etc. Here's the thing -- here's my own holy discontent -- "good enough" is not enough. I believe that churches should be at the forefront of good business strategy and management. It's worth doing with excellence. Churches should be setting the standard for being great places to work, they should be a model of efficiency and excellence, they should be doing everything they can to understand what leadership means and how to do it well. After all, in my opinion, it's worth being great and not just "good enough."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My question is, "good enough for who or what?"

Who sets the standards of what is good and what is great?

Beth B said...

i totally agree! there should be a higher standard of excellence in christian music, christian literature, christian businesses, and so on and so on! good enough is most definitly not good enough. we should be the example of excellence for the rest of the world, not the other way around.
just my opinion though....

ckd said...

Justin --
I think when people say things are "good enough" they mean, "it's just church, no big deal," and so the whole point of what I'm saying is that I think it IS A BIG DEAL. Being a church is a HUGE deal -- but some people treat it as a 2nd class hobby -- as just something they do on the weekends...and therefore it's not worth the time or effort to do things great.

I think that if you ever get to a point that you think you're "great," you're probably only good.

According to Collins, great companies don't see "greatness" as a destination, but as something to be striving towards -- and in the process of striving -- of pushing themselves to be better -- they become great, oftentimes without realizing such.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the church is a huge deal (for many reasons) - for me the problem lies with the idea that Collins is applying how business should be run compared to churches. Similiarities? Yes. In a sense the church is already great because it has been designed, created and given life and mission by God. Yeah, we mess it up pretty bad and don't do some things very well.

I think as well this is where we get into more discussions of modern compared to emerging churches. Emergent types want a church to be run smoothly but don't expect (and at times necessarily want) the slick productions, everything running like a well-oiled business machine. They are okay with a church that is good. If a church is spiritually vibrant and providing formation for people they can live with some hiccups in terms of organization and church management. Moderns, however, have a tendancy to want the church to be run like a business - which is fine and all but it does bring out very serious and troubling questions as to the nature, purpose, and identity of 'the church'. Just some thoughts. Good post Charlie.

Anonymous said...

just to follow up on my last post, what i meant was not that collins was comparing business to churches but how as church leaders we are so quick to find the latest, greatest book on business management and apply that to a totally different concept....ie, the church. Again, similiarities? You bet. Are there things to learn from business books for the church? Yeah. But IMHO, to much difference to allow those types of books to heavily and primarily influence how we guide/lead God's church.

mitchell said...

I think I have to agree with the previous comment. N.T. Wright paints a picture of Jesus dying on the cross to fight a war not because he lost the battle, but if he was to fight in any other way he would have already lost in principle. In adapting a business model to church have we already lost what church is supposed to be about? The kingdom is not about greatness.