Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CovenantClusters: Big on Organic Small in Organization

Before I get into some of the specifics about what it means to me for CovenantClusters to be organically grown, I want to insert this little ramble...barely qualifies as a rant. Posted this reply last week to a wonderful post by my friend Len, mentioning that I would probably have to post it here as well:


I've been pondering your posts on organization...I've been pondering organizational stuff for decades--my degree is even "Organizational Management"! And you have hit four important points about the difference between organic and organization--well done!

For me the simplest way to process the difference between the two is how they deal with the messiness and chaos of growth.

M. Scott Peck has mentioned in his books that he believes humans are inherently struggling with the draw of ease and comfort. I can see where he's coming from. Life in the last 60 years (in the West, at least) has turned in focus (both energy and imagination) from being about basic survival to looking for "value-added", since basic survival is no longer in question for the majority.

Basic survival is the realm where we must deal effectively with the messiness and chaos of growth. This is the realm of liminality...where there is a resulting communitas that make a huge impact on how persons grow and mature into those who can effectively replicate themselves.

When cultures have moved beyond basic survival (at least in the material realm...the spiritual and emotional realms are usually terribly short-changed), people tend to want to move away from the edges--places where FEAR still is an important teacher and motivator--they long for ease and comfort. And this longing is so strong that they are willing to give up the vast majority of their freedom in order to relieve themselves from the vast majority of their responsibilities concerning the messiness and chaos of their own growth and maturity.

This is where we see the management concept known as "organizing our way out of chaos" appear...and it is always the most expedient but rarely the most efficient way to deal with mess and chaos.

When leaders can walk people through the mess and chaos of growth and maturity, they have the potential to replicate that process with others. If they are forever looking for someone to "organize their way out of chaos" they will become both stunted and barren.

This is exactly what Jesus was asking God to do in the Garden....Father, if it is possible, will you organize a way out of this horrible situation I'm facing? But Jesus, being in step with the Father and Spirit, knew that could only happen if it could still be effective in accomplishing the goal. Alas, there was no other way but through the suffering of the cross...and so Jesus embraced the mess and the chaos so that he would be able to take his disciples through that valley...and they could take others through that same valley themselves....

This is why organic is the only way that works for more than two generations: it naturally replicates itself on a regular basis. Robert and I will die sometime in the next 30-60 years (Lord willing), but our influence will not die with us. We have three sons who will (Lord willing) grow into men of God and carry on. It is possible for me to have had 15-20 children (YIKES) and for Robert and I to raise them to be men and women of God (only by God's grace!), but it would require much more overhead and be a much larger operation on every scale. And there is a tremendous loss of attention and affection for everyone in that scenario, resulting in partial efficiency and partial effectiveness....

In the old days, the days of basic survival, it was imperative to have large families in order to have workers for the field! It was also more common for a man to go through multiple wives in the process...and the infant mortality rate was terrible. But those days have passed for many.

If the outcome that any group of Christians seeking to follow the Spirit's leading is anything less than regular replication, they need to go back to the strategic planning drawing board!

Sorry to ramble on here, Len...this is important processing for me as I gear up to the next stage with CovenantClusters, where this kind of exponential growth is hardwired at the mDNA level! I may have to post this myself....

The Abbess' rule is simple: Just enough organization for relationships to thrive; enough chaos for creativity and communitas to emerge; all needs met.

So there you have a smattering of thoughts....I'll unpack them as we travel along.

Go with God.


annette said...

abi, i have lamented your busy life b/c i've missed your blogging... but it hit me this afternoon, that i am thankful for the lul, b/c it has enabled me to mull your musings and understand a little better MO and CCs. it takes me a while to wrap my brain around the philosophical but then i'm ready to go. thanks for your kind comments on my blog!

-still wrapping (the brain)

AbiSomeone said...

Mulling is good...especially when mulling cider. ;^)

It will be another bit before I'm ready to make the next you can keep wrapping! :^)

Benjamin Bush Jr. said...

I'm responding to your comments on Jesus Creed about WHite House God 2. I hope this doesn't mess up the train of thought on this post.

I would ask you to think about something, please as it relates to Christians holding Political Office. Is it significant that, in order for a Christian to enter Political office, that Christian must disobey a direct command of Christ? In other words, they must swear an oath of office, something Jesus specifically forbid his Followers to do. Are we to disobey Christ in order to supposedly serve Him?

AbiSomeone said...


I've gone over to your blog to respond to your question in your context...because your question really is quite different from the scope of this blog.

Shalom, brother.