Dr. Phil – When is a Network not just another organization? When it come to organizational development, and mission groups specifically, the term, network is not just a synonym for organization. It is actually a very specific type of organization which refers to it functions in fulfilling its goals.
There has been lots of change since we began this ministry over twenty-five years ago. In our connected world, that is not easily divided into sending and receiving nations, it is possible to have treat influence without the need for a large administrative footprint. “Success” is no longer measured just by the size of mission office (if it ever was) or the number of seminar attendees. We measure our success by the degree we are being catalysts in seeing the lives of leaders – and the ministries they lead — transformed. This transformation is a process that takes intentionality and does not happen after one seminar or overnight. This is why we emphasize mentoring leaders, coaching teams and providing ongoing consultation.
So when it comes to how the mission is accomplished, networks are flexible and responsive like-minded groups that are focussed on empowering others. In order to do this they need to have minimal centralized control and hierarchical structure. This allows for greater organic growth that is not dependent on one personality or pyramid style of control. It is more defined by shared relationship, values, and accountability. The digital information age we experiencing is creating pressure on all institutions to change. In business it means one guy with an idea (i.e. Facebook) can become a billionaire. It also means that small organizations can make a difference through a network.
In the New Testament the early church operated in clusters and networks rather than from a centralized hierarchy. This was both the genius and resiliency of the church in the first century (Gibbs, 2005). In more modern times, it has enabled the church to grow against the political and economic odds in places like China and Cuba. It is also means that the church can grow in increasingly complex post modern societies which do not share its values.
In the new realities of globalization, urbanization, and post-modernism, the church being the “salt” and “leaven” rather than a political force is necessary for its survival (and I would argue, its original function). And this is what the emerging generation of leaders is looking for, authenticity rather than pat answers and a team approach that begins from the bottom up rather than the top down. This contrasts leadership that is based on superstars and charismic personalities.
The leaders connected to our Ministry Coaching Network (MCNet), are those who see these new realities and are committed to help others prepare for what it means to be the church – the called out ones – in the 21st century. Granted, some of us are past the halfway point of our journey, but those we mentor and invest in will carry the baton of these values further into this century than we will be able to. Thanks for being engaged as part of this process.