These are quotes which stood out to me, possibly for use in a sermon someday. Their presence here does not mean I agree with them, it merely shows that I might want to reference them later. The default view is five random selections. Use the tag list on the right to view all quotes relevant to that theme.
A December 2000 Fast Company article by David Dorsey focused on a change agent named Jerry Sternin. His job with Save the Children was to the change the face of malnutrition in Vietnam. I will refer you to the excellent article available online to tell the rest of the story. See: http://www.fastcompany.com/online/41/sternin.html The approach claims that one can never bring a permanent solution from the outside. "In every community, organization or social group, there are individuals whose exceptional behaviors and practices enable them to get better results than their neighbors with the exact same resources." The approach is almost the opposite of the "best practice" model of change agentry. Here are the steps in the article. "1. Don't presume that you have the answer." I think this is the biggest one for a change agent to remember. We become almost jaded by hearing the same stories and thinking we have some solutions. The first task is to always listen and learn. Solutions must come up within the culture or social set addressed. "2. Don't think of it as a dinner party." While it is true that we can learn from diverse backgrounds and approaches, in the case of most churches, the practices or innovations needed must come from another church that is viewed as a peer. They must identify with the other organization. They must feel they are working with similar enough circumstances and resources. It is possible to be inspired by a church very dissimilar from another church, but very difficult to implement some of their practices. "3. Let them do it themselves." The article advises change agents to set up situations where people can learn on their own. Change agents should raise questions, highlight or platform some of the positive deviants but let the group of those that need to change take it from there. "4. Identify conventional wisdom." In some ways this means clarifying what the average church in the group is doing. Many times conventional wisdom was very productive in a previous era, but is no longer. In the case of the Vietnamese culture, certain foods were deemed low class, even though they were nutritious. By showing how the positive deviants used these foods to improve nutrition, others then could lay aside their previous bias. "5. Identify and analyze the deviants." As you look at a group of churches, you can identify those that are getting the results that you seek. If you have defined the group correctly, then the rest of the group can as well. This allows the group to investigate the deviants for different practices. Help the group identify those behaviors that are leading to success. "6.Let the deviants adopt deviations on their own." The task of change agents is not to transfer the knowledge but to design an intervention that enables the targets to practice the new behavior. In the case of the Vietnamese villagers, they were invited to a cooking class held at the home of the positive deviant where they cooked meals using the low class foods for the entire group. In the case of churches, a change agent would have to enable a team from one church to learn from the deviant and then try the new practice over a period of time. "7. Track results and publicize them." The results from each village were publicized. There was a communications effort. But then the task is to wait until other groups are interested enough to want to learn for themselves. Turning the process into a program does not help aid change. A target group has to be ready to change themselves, curious about what could help make the changes, and willing to invest themselves in studying those that are positive deviants. Then they have to practice applying the behaviors. "8. Repeat steps one through seven." Disseminate the best deviant behaviors across the system but help people go back and look for new behaviors constantly. The answers are different for each group but they can form new groups with different peers. This article further pushes me in the direction of teaching congregations that serve as positive deviants where other churches can learn. However they must feel enough like a group in order to learn. These churches would have to examine their own conventional wisdom about what should work but isn't working now to bring the changes they desire. I am reminded of the model that New Hope Church uses through their practicum program as well as the "Doing Church as a Team" program. Both programs allow visiting groups to look behind the scenes, ask questions and watch the behaviors of a variety of persons at the church. The conference is the conference they do for their new members and attenders, they merely allow outsiders to be a part as well. The practicum allows pastors to follow their pastors around for 5 days and learn as they go. Then, pastors can adopt or try certain behaviors for themselves. It is not a perfect fit to the situation, but it's getting there. I am sure that most of you can create and devise even more interesting and important ways to apply this idea. After you try one, send it in, I would like to hear what you have learned in the process. A lot of this information is found around the nutrition literature. Here are a few resources for you for further research. http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80697e/80697E00.htm#Contents http://www.unicef.org/pdeduc/education/pdf/vol1.2_nov98.pdf
"When I came back to the navy from Princeton, of course, the navy has a strong antiintellectual bias. I don't think my degree from Princeton helped me very much at all to make flag officer, but after I made flag officer, the navy used to brag about it all the time. [Admiral Crowe has a Ph.D.] It opened up vistas for me that would not have happened otherwise."
If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
It's said that Thomas Jefferson could not accept the miraculous elements of scripture, so he edited his own special version of the New Testament in which all references to the supernatural were deleted. The gospels, therefore, contain no miracles--only the moral teachings of Christ. The gospel account closes with these words: "There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulcher and departed." Thank God that's not how the story really ends!
The Anvil Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime: Then looking in, I saw upon the floor Old hammers, worn with beating years of time. "How many anvils have you had," said I, "To wear and batter all these hammers so?" "Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye, "The anvil wears the hammers out, you know." And so, thought I, the anvil of God's word, For ages skeptic blows have beat upon; Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard, The anvil is unharmed . . . the hammer's gone.