Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Idea pyramid

I had a conversation that intrigued me yesterday. A friend and I talked about why ideas brought to her team meeting were rough, ill-formed, and loosey-goosey (my term, not hers). In contrast, proposals discussed at her team leaders' board were well-defined, thoroughly researched, and thought through.

Seems to me that the blurts and germs of ideas grow and become clear at the team level. Someone suggests an idea that may be wacky, funky, or out-of-the-box. It might be gathered from another conversation, overheard at a convention, or plucked from a website. Everyone on the team chimes in to brainstorm. The concept gathers shape and momentum, then gets sent back for further research and morphing… or it gets tossed as a bad fit. Trash-binned. However, tossing it without the group's interaction may mean it never comes to life, because the best proposals are sometimes formed in community..

It reminds me of an exercise at a ministry leadership retreat. We did a spiritual gifts test, and then were grouped by our strongest gifts. Administrators sat in their well-defined circle, prophets were talking loudly together, hospitality people held their cup of coffee, resting their elbows on the table, and mercy-givers huddled in a warm fuzzy section all their own. The riddle to solve: “We have received a $100,000 gift which your group can spend as you like, anywhere within this ministry. Where should the money go?” We were given ten minutes for discussion before our delegate presented our proposal.

Everyone was passionate about their solution. The evangelists purchased a van and tracts to reach more people for Jesus. The hospitality people upgraded the kitchen and bought coffee carts to enhance the church’s fellowship. The administrators controlled the sum, delegating to their committees with specific goals in mind. Givers put it in the bank in a short-term, high earning account, with a plan for spending the interest only. (They immediately invested, rather than spending. The rest hadn’t even thought in that direction.)

Each gifting brought its ideas, completely unrelated, to the group. Amazing. The diversity was almost shocking. “You’re all correct. You have just experienced the Body of Christ at work,” said the session leader. “This is why team and board discussions can be rancorous and all-over-the-place. One member wonders how on earth the other could come up with such odd ideas. But God sets different gifts in the Church, so there will be checks and balances, vigorous discussions, and brainstorming that allows us to do the will of God.”

Messy? Of course. Tense and confrontational? Sometimes. Invigorating and full of new – sometimes strange and exciting – ideas and solutions? Yes, when each member is highly valued. Allowed to bring their ideas and gifts freely, regardless of human title or position. Shared servanthood allows a great team’s working process. And such interactions are normal for the healthy Body of Christ.

No wonder the team leaders can shine, bringing their teams' excellent, well-honed ideas to the decision-making table!

Read more:
Oh God, you are my God, earnestly seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:1-4 NIV

**Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His
presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100 NKJV

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