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The Atomic Organization: how to unleash explosive energy


Too often church leaders lack competence – or even interest – in the basics of organizational life. Unfortunately, they miss a great opportunity for their church to improve as a life-giving force to the families they serve.

I want to help you gain an understanding of the five key organizational components. This is a key to unlock energy in your church you didn’t know existed.

Image (minus the labels) believed to be in the public domain.

Image (minus the labels) believed to be in the public domain.

I had an epiphany recently. For some time I have struggled to find a clear, simple way to visually explain my organizational model. As often happens, it suddenly came to me when my mind was on something else.

Here it is.

An organization is like an atom. It is made up of certain indispensible elements that determine its identity. It consists of a multi-dimensional nucleus (the core) that everything else revolves around.

Prime. Key. Chief. Principal. Crucial.

Before scientists were equipped to look at microscopic atoms, ancient Greeks invented the idea and chose the name. Atom means ‘uncuttable’.

They were on a search for an irreducible element that makes up our world.

In the early 1900’s brilliant minds discovered that atoms are not ‘uncuttable’. They are actually a conglomerate of sub-atomic particles.

My atomic model of an organization

My organizational model is a conglomerate of five key components. One of the five, which I call the core, consists of four critical elements.

Like all models, this is a simplified way to show how the essential pieces of an organization fit together to make up the whole.

Equivalent to the nucleus of an atom:

Key component 1. The core – The composition of the nucleus determines what type of atom it will be. The organizational core consists of:
• Mission: why do we exist?
• Vision: what unites our efforts?
• Values: what motivates our behaviors?
• Strategy: how will we succeed?

Equivalent to four revolving rings of an atom:

Key component 2. The framework – roles & responsibilities, functions, and governance.

Key component 3. The systems – repeatable processes for getting things done.

Key component 4. The ministry team – the people that make things happen and how they work together to turn dreams into reality.

Key component 5. The BTRN (Big-Thing-Right-Now) – a single unifying goal to sustain unity, health and growth.

Like an atom, if an organizational element is replaced or removed, the identity changes or can even break down.

The Big Win

Most churches can improve organizationally. When they do they will gain coherence and cohesiveness as an organization.

Coherence means to make sense of it all, to eliminate the chaos and confusion.

Cohesiveness means to make everything work together, to have alignment and cooperation, and to inspire your people to all row in the same direction.

Question: How well do you think most church leaders understand the basics of organizational life?

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Copyright © 2014 Steve Brimmer. All rights reserved.