12 November 2010

Movement vs Institution

I see Axiom Church as a movement in Syracuse. The word "movement" is often used to describe a dynamic human organization, in order to distinguish it from what are called "institutions.". A strong movement, then, occupies the difficult space between being a free-wheeling organism and a disciplined organization.

Here are 5 Marks of a Movement:

1. Preferred Future
- A movement is marked by an attractive hopeful dream of accomplishing something big together. The content of the vision must be compelling so that others yearn and ache for it. It must be something that all members can begin to feel in their hearts and minds and eventually pass along to those around them. A movement is marked by it's blazing, unique, passionate principles that creates a new ethos amongst its members. By contrast, "institutionalized" organizations are held together by rules, regulations, procedures, egos, reputation and not by a shared hope for the future.

2. Sacrificial Commitment
- Individuals put the vision ahead of their own interests and comfort. They are willing to work without high compensation, power, or perks. The satisfaction of a realized vision is their main compensation. At some point in every movement great personal sacrifice is required of its members to continue the next leg of the journey. There is no more practical index of whether you have a movement or not. If the leader is making all the sacrifices, you don't have one.

3. Generous Flexibility - Institutionalized organizations are very turf conscious. Members are suspicious of anyone encroaching on their area of responsibility. Positions and power have been hard-won and jealously guarded. In movements, however, the accomplishment of the vision is more important than power and position. So people are willing to make allies, be flexible, and cooperate with anyone sharing the basic vision and principles. Expectations for titles or timelines are held loosely.

4. Innovativeness - Institutions are organized more vertically, where ideas from "below" are unwelcome. Movements are flatter because the commonly shared vision unifies and empowers. The vision is what matters - so anyone with a good idea about how to accomplish it is welcome to give it. Ideas flow out of the whole organization, top to bottom, which leads to greater creativity.

5. Spontaneous Growth - A movement is able to generate its own resources, recruit its own new members and participants, and (especially) raise up its own new leaders. The vision of the movement attracts people with potential and provides opportunities that reveal emerging leaders through real-life experience and then prepares them for the next level of leadership in the movement. Leadership that people have learned in other environments may not translate into the environment in this new movement. This is why developing potential and interpersonal trust is more important than previous accomplishments outside the movement.

inspired by Tim Keller and Andy Stanley

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