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4 Ways Churches Can Become Learning Organizations


From my observation, churches that are mired in a traditional mindset are having a rough go of it today. Also, historic churches that are forsaking their foundational values are in rapid decline.

In contrast, churches that have remained true to sound biblical teaching but have embraced innovative organizational approaches are thriving.

What is a learning organization?

I recently heard a national news reporter refer to a terrorist group as a learning organization. His point was that whatever was done to contain or degrade them, the terrorist leaders would find an alternative approach in pursuit of their mission. They study their enemy’s tactics and then re-emerge with an unexpected new initiative.

Peter Senge popularized the term “learning organization” in his seminal book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization (Doubleday, 1990).

Senge defines a learning organization as “an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future”.

4 Ways Churches Can Become Learning Organizations

1. Be clear on what cannot change
You have to know – and articulate – who you are at the core. Some things cannot change.

2. Be open to a mind shift on things that can change
You have to let go of things that are non-essential. Some things that made you successful in the past no longer work and will bring you down if you hang onto them.

3. Leadership dialogue
The goal is to acquire wisdom to lead in today’s complex environment. Wisdom is still to be found in a multitude of counselors. Hopefully, that’s your leadership team. You have to honestly assess your current state and then prayerfully dream together of a better future. It takes a team to pull this off.

4. Governance and systems that are flexible and responsive
Most traditional church governance systems (boards and committees) were designed when things didn’t change very often or very fast. They are problematic in today’s dynamic world where decisions need to be made more quickly.

Flexibility and responsiveness are the order of the day. They are more important than getting decisions 100% right. When you are resolute on what cannot change, you can afford to be experimental in the other areas that need change.

Question: Do you think churches should be learning organizations?

Please join in the conversation and share this post with others who may be interested.

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