While You Were Micro-Sleeping
Fresh Insights on the Changing Face of North American Missions
The Mission Exchange, 2009, 68 pp. ISBN 978-0-615-33222-2
Steve Moore is President and CEO of The Mission Exchange (formerly called the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies). He is also the author of The Dream Cycle: Leveraging the Power of Personal Growth and Leadership Insights for Emerging Leaders and Those Investing in Them. Moore’s passion is equipping young leaders for involvement in The Great Commission. In this book he shows how some of the current changes in the digital and globalized world are affecting the North American missions enterprise. The chapters of this book consist of the scripts for Steve’s 2009 monthly video blog, accessible the 5th of each month at www.TheMissionExchange.org.
1. A Metaphor of Missions Today
“But the world is changing and so are the rules. With the proliferation of desktop computers, desktop publishing and lower cost printing, there are ways to self-publish a book that completely circumvent the world of traditional publishing. If you have a good idea, the ability to write, access to a decent editor, a creative graphic designer and a few thousand dollars to spend for printing, you can produce your own book whether the publishing world wants you to or not. If you are willing to go print on demand, you don’t even need the few thousand dollars.” (2)
“These changes in the world of publishing serve as a metaphor for what is happening in the world of North American missions. There was a day when individuals or churches who wanted to make a difference around the world had little choice but to work with and through traditional structures. … Like self-published authors, Christ-followers and churches can carry out their grassroots Great Commission agenda in ways that complete circumvent traditional systems and cultures. Like it or not, the rules are changing. Forever.” (3)
“…we need to devise better ways to identify the grassroots initiatives that have game-changing potential for the Great Commission. We need to embrace paradigm busting ideas that redefine how traditional structures work together with viable grass roots initiatives.” (4)
2. While You Were Micro-Sleeping
“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it” is a metaphor for church and missions leaders responding to the challenges of our accelerated world. If the pace of change in your organization is slower than the pace of change in the world, you’re in trouble. We are dealing not with incremental change but major, discontinuous, exponential, and irreversible change. Leaders must ask two questions: What’s happening now? And What’s happening next? The context informs your strategy. You must be aware of what is changing outside your organization and the implications for your organization.
4. From Invention to Innovation: How Inno-Friendly is Your Organization?
An idea is an invention. Converting the idea into something useful and profitable is innovation. Innovation is as important for missions as it is for business. But there is no correlation between the value of an idea and the likelihood of its being implemented! Few people see the potential in breakthrough ideas and even fewer organizations are structured to accept and implement them. Most organizations are limited by one-way communication from the top down and the leaders are insulated from the best ideas from the grass roots. Where do you most need a fresh burst of innovation? Would you recognize it if you saw it?
6. The “Punkification” of Missions
Punk is an anti-establishment do-it-yourself philosophy and it is being driven in missions by the democratization of information and the decentralization of initiative.
Every person with a cell phone has become an amateur reporter in an “upload” world. But church and mission leaders mostly operate in a “download” paradigm, pushing power and information down the chain of command.
“Power is moving away from the old elite in our industries, the editors, the chief executives, and let’s face it, the proprietors. A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it.” (24, quoting Rupert Murdoch)
Initiative is also decentralizing. Because of the ability to upload, individuals can now produce really complex things with very little money and hierarchy.
“If we don’t figure out how to collaborate creatively—if we use all of our metaphorical bandwidth for downloading—our constituents will increasingly pursue ‘punk missions’ that circumvent entirely the old school structures. Perhaps they will rewrite the punk music ad: “Here’s a cell phone, here’s a computer, now launch your own mission.” (25)
7. The Power of Viral Ministry
“Viral marketing uses pre-existing social networks to communicate a message or enhance a brand, often leveraged by technology through digital pictures, videos, email or even text messages. It is word of mouth on techno-steroids.” “For something to ‘go viral’ it has to have a purpose that goes beyond making a profit. That plays right into our hands.” (27) “Only in an upload world can you engage, or could we say ‘infect,’ hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of days for free. By leveraging twitter, youtube, facebook and other social networking sites it is possible to communicate and mobilize large groups without traditional systems or structures. That’s what makes it so scary. That’s what makes it so powerful.” (29)
8. Who’s Your CD? Why Every Successful Enterprise Needs a Chief Destruction Officer
“Success almost always translates into growth. … Two fundamental, albeit unintended, consequences of sustained growth are a decrease in urgency and an increase in complexity.” If you don’t deal with complexity you can’t sustain growth. So urgency shifts from producing growth to solving the problems of complexity. Success tends to block the larger view of opportunities as well as the changes you will face around the bend.
Complexity has birthed professionalism and elitism at the expense of innovation. We need Chief Destruction Officers to wreak havoc on the status quo, rail against incremental change, focus on the fringes for increased flexibility, and spawn new structures.
9. How the Next Generation is Redefining Loyalty and Why It Changes Everything
Older generations are loyal to institutions and their programs. The focus is on our uniqueness and distinctives. Younger generations are loyal to relationships and are focused on shared identity, capacity and opportunity. They will engage with multiple diverse organizations as long as they add value. Young leaders expect to get experience in multiple career fields. They are absolutely committed to very few theological distinctives. And they insist on being empowered versus controlled by leaders.
10. The Un-Provider: What God Might Be Saying by Not Providing
“Maybe you’ve heard the old adage, ‘Where God guides, he always provides.’ We made up a new saying: ‘God often guides by what he doesn’t provide.” “Are you up against a wall with no good plan to get past it? Have you hit an obstacle that appears impenetrable? Maybe God will guide you to see something that you couldn’t have seen if he’d just removed the wall.” (44, quoting Craig Groeschel in IT, How Churches and Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT.)
God may be pushing us into a new season of creativity and innovation, calling us to more partnership and collaboration, pressing us to explore mergers and acquisition, and perhaps gracefully leading us to some closures of ministry structures.
11. Movement 2.0: The New Levers of Social Change and Why You Can’t Ignore Them
Levers of social change may be institutional, organizational, tribal, or viral. These two new unstructured entities are more flexible and can produce change more quickly. The tribal lever is not hierarchical, but relational, flowing along the lines of natural connection. It is dynamic, feeding off the passion of others in the tribe. Viruses are flexible, unmanageable, and chaotic. These new levers bring new digital realities and we must learn how to collaborate with them and harness their power. What does it look like to be viral friendly? Tribal friendly? How can we make this hybrid partnership work? What risks and failures are we willing to accept?
13. The Hourglass Effect: Why Partnership Momentum Stalls in Middle Management and What to Do About It
“I believe one of the challenges of implementing partnership is middle management, not because the people who serve there are any less open to working with others than their senior leaders or grass roots colleagues, but because they are responsible for hashing out the details, and we all know who is in the details. It is at this middle management level, in the center of the hourglass that we have to figure out how to collate all of our policies and procedures with the practical realities of doing something together that we would have otherwise done ourselves. And that’s the real challenge.” (61)
14. Re-Thinking the Issues of Faithfulness and Fruitfulness
“Christ-following leaders are especially vulnerable to denying, or at least downsizing reality and we do so to our own peril.” (63)
“Unless you are prepared to look your stakeholders in the eye and say, ‘It is not possible for us to know if we are moving in the direction of our vision and mission,’ you have to identify some metrics because if you say yes (or no for that matter) you have to have, either implicitly or explicitly, some point of reference that serves, as the basis for your answer. Unless you are prepared to tell your stakeholders, ‘Stop asking this question because we can’t and don’t know…’ deferring any answer until Jesus comes, you have to identify some metrics, some indicators of the outcomes connected with the bottom line of your vision and mission. And wrestling with the performance, or we could say success of your organization, will bring you face to face with reality.” (65)
“You can’t say you are truly faithful if you are not diligently seeking to grow your capacity, develop your giftedness and refine your strategy. Faithfulness goes so much deeper than just showing up. So at the heart of faithfulness we are constantly asking, ‘What could we be doing differently? Is there a better way?’ These questions are only meaningful if linked to the other part of the feedback loop, fruitfulness, which asks the question, ‘Are we bearing fruit? Much fruit? Lasting fruit?’” (65)
“Amidst all the urgency, uncertainty and vulnerability that comes with leading in this moment in history we are faced with unprecedented, perhaps never to be repeated opportunities. God, please help us not to miss them. Difficulties, complexity, even tragedy, are some of the most potent fertilizers for the soil of leadership. God, please take our roots deeper and our branches higher.” (67)
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