From Harvard Business this month, Vineet Nayar wrote that it is time to invert the management pyramid. In this article he cites how management was developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, establishing command and control structures within organizations. Over the last century, cultural change drove new ways to innovate in organizations, most frequently through collaboration and teamwork. However, organizations still kept the classic management structures, which worked against innovative processes.
In our churches, similar changes have occurred. We’ve inherited management structures that were introduced to our tradition fifty or more years ago. In our day-to-day lives together as a church community, we assume a command/control structure is the way to get things done. However, the culture has moved on — one person cannot, within their person, have all the tools to direct an organization in an informed and intelligent manner. Likewise, our churches falter when it is the pastor who is assumed to do most of the ministry and leading. It does not need to be this way. Within most church traditions, appeals can be made to move towards a collective priesthood, one where a variety of gifts might lead and inspire the community at different levels. The pastor must shift his/her role towards one that creates space for the people to take center stage.
Nayar asks the hard questions, ones we must pose to the churches: “Do we have the humility to step out of our egos and hand over the mike to our subordinates? Do we possess the courage to unstructure an existing, rigid regime that we have known to work in the past?” Do churches possess the humility and courage Nayar talks about? I think many of our churches do, and now is the time to change.
For more thoughts on this topic, check out this post over at Subversive Influence…