Sunday, June 10, 2007

words that drive me nuts: organic

"organic" is a term oft applied in the word of business/leadership/management

it was originally coined in this way to refer to the autopoeitic emergence [i.e. self-creation] of healthy systems that reproduce other, similar healthy systems; also, it was a reference to denote how unhealthy systems will naturally become healthy if permitted to self-diagnose and sustain [though, that may include removal of certain agents/persons contributing to the unhealth of the overall system].

these days,
the term is often reduced to the functional opting out of managerial responsibility
wherein leaders don't lead or provide direction
because it's not "organic"

in churches
there is a great fascination with organic terminology
in part because of the obvious crossovers with jesus' teaching on spirituality

the term seems most applied in churches as a way to kind of sex-up whatever program
the church is promoting these days

all of thus bugs me

since blogs really do tend to be about stuff that bugs bloggers,
i thought i'd offer something a little more helpful in the way of understanding what it truly means to be organic

1. "organics" is truly about people
...and people don't "run" like machines. people cannot be controlled and be simultaneously passionate/creative. leadership in churches is organic because the people in our churches will do whatever they want, regardless of whether or not we want them to do it.

says mag wheately:
"it is important to recognize that people never behave like machines. when given directions, we insist on putting our own unique spin on them. when told to follow orders, we resist in obvious or subtle ways. when told to accept someone else's solution or to institute a program created elsewhere, we deny that it has sufficient value."

2. managing living systems/cultivating health/sustaining growth
... the only way forwards, then, is to look to the system-as-a-whole. we can influence the system towards health/growth/sustainability, which isn't "in-organic" just a recognition that we - as leaders - are also part of the larger system and, as such, our role in the system may be to influence the overall web towards things that are more true, more beautiful, and/or more good.

3. paying attention to what's naturally happening around you
...the best way to do this - at least, it seems this way in 12+ years of ministry - is to notice the good things around you and publicly laud and authenticate them, providing rationale/teaching for why, exactly, they are so beautiful/true/good; and, to notice the absence of critical things in the system and try and introduce them through the manifestation of growing concern about their absence in the other people involved [i.e. make everyone aware of how screwy it is that "compassion" - for example - is noticeably absent in our churches, and then help them realize what "compassion" might look like in their locale].

this is just a start

but i just can't simply be bothered by misuse of "organic"
in actual fact
this kind of orientation towards faith/leadership/systems truly is one of the greatest perspectival gifts of the 21st c.

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