What is this post about?
So for those who don’t know, I am studying a degree in theology. At the time of writing this, I’m 70% of the way through my preparation for leadership in ministry module. If you know anything about my journey, I did an entire year of leadership training last year, this module has dropped me into a completely new level of knowledge.
What i want to focus on is my take on what was introduced to me during one paticular session. I’m going to introduce something called ‘the second curve’ (Charles Handy – The Second Curve).
This diagram was introduced to us during the session, it describes the typical process from when vision is introduced, to its initial growth and then onto its decline. Notice the second curve? This is what we will focus on today.
A brief explanation
This diagram shows the process in which vision is both born and the process in which it dies. Let’s focus on the first stage for now – inception. Inception shows an initial dip right from the off. Most new ideas are met with energy and enthusiasm, at least from those who created them! The process in which things get moving probably doesn’t look like you envisioned it to look like. It takes a fair amount of consistency and persistence to get a new idea off of the ground. Notice how the initial inception curve looks exactly like the new start curve (more on that later)?
Relate this to the local church, new ideas take time to build momentum. Personally, I believe this process is proof (even if it is only proving something to you yourself!) that the idea is built on firm foundations. Is the vision you are trying to put into motion aligned with God’s vision for the church? This process will reveal the answer for you.
Growth. Most forget about growth and focus on the end goal and miss the significance in the growth phase. Growth can often be painful. Think about when you physically grew as a child, you knew about it right!? Spiritual growth, or growth of a vision / new ideas and so on, can often lead to growing pain. Growing pain is the process in which you learn about what works and what doesn’t work to push further towards the desired goal. This is where most get things wrong and it is here in which a decline, might begin.
We’re going to skip over maturity to briefly mention the decline, although it may seem obvious, it must be addressed just to lay out a foundation. The decline is the phase in which growth has plateaued and then we experience a dying vision. Think of the Churches you know of that have closed over the past few years, they all encountered this phase. This is the phase in which what once worked, no longer does so.
innovational leadership – the second curve.
We’ve briefly explored what the first curve looks like, what about the second curve? The second curve is where we avoid death and continue growth by changing things up, yes I said the word change! Often too many of us are a little afraid or hesitant to embrace change, but change is just how God works to continue the growth of your vision in the church.
The second curve starts slightly above the growth stage and just before the maturity phase. The maturity phase can also be labeled the plateau phase. You should not be reactive to a plateau, you should predict a plateau and act accordingly based on what you and your team have observed. It is the leadership’s responsibility to be forward thinking, in which they are not naively believing that the thing that initially created growth will continue to do so, change and innovation is needed to reintroduce relevance as a means to continue growing and in doing so, create an entirely new curve.
Innovation is absolutely essential to fuel the relevance of the Church and its vision, without it, vision and the church will die. There is no clear answer to knowing when and where you should create fresh vision/ideas. It really depends on how often we allow God to disrupt our lives, are you willing to completely reinvent something even if it’s working well? Can you let go of the success?
Notice how the first dip in the inception phase, looks exactly like the initial dip in the new ideas phase? Every new idea or vision as mentioned earlier requires persistence to get it off of the ground. The reason behind this is that people don’t like change, and this is the period in which you will have the most trouble. People like staying where they are and are hesitant to change things that already work. This is where culture enters the mix, a healthy culture will embrace change an unhealthy culture will oppose it AND make sure you know it opposes it.
The process of leading from a place of innovational leadership will often lead to losing people but then gaining people through the growth of the new vision.
I’d quickly like to just mention relevance. Really the main problem we are addressing is relevance. If the church and its vision cease from being relevant it dies. So relevance is directly responsible FOR growth. Where is relevance created? Innovation. God provides the resource, the rest is up to us. I’m quoting TD Jakes here, but God didn’t make chairs and tables, he made trees. God encourages us to look at what is and envision what it could be. Innovate to create relevance which in turn creates and grows new vision and ideas.
I hope this makes sense? I’ve quickly whirled through my thought process but i didn’t want to make this lengthy and extensive; i know you all have lives to attend to 😉 Please if you have questions, ask them!