Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I found this article on a website recently. It was reported that at the Enterprise 2.0 conference Don Burke and Sean Dennehey from the CIA gave a talk on Intellipedia, the CIA’s internal wikipedia. As part of their talk, they cited a manual, including, I’m told, this from page 28:

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Their point was that these instructions come from a 1944 manual on how to sabotage a business.

Another blogger saw this same article and commented that these same eight points could also be used to sabotage a church from the inside out.

I got to thinking about my 25 years of ministry experience and realized that he was right. I’ve dealt with leaders who couldn’t lead people out of a paper bag. They would refer every decision to a committee. I’ve experienced windbags who loved to hear themselves pontificate. Every time they opened their mouths you knew that they had a speech to make and often an ax to grind, often bringing up irrelevant issues causing the committee to spend the meeting rabbit trailing for much of the meeting.

I remember one church where decisions were never settled (even after a vote) unless certain people got their way. If they didn’t, you could count on the issue being brought up again and again until they finally got their way.

At a recent ministry hours and hours were spent working on wording for memos and memorandums in an attempt to “get it just right!” Some people advocated reasonableness over a willingness to seek God’s way and to step into the way of the numinous where human reason is often set aside in favor of doing things God’s way that seems foolish and unreasonable to man.

The final group of leaders I call handwringers. These people are always worried about the appropriateness and “rightness” of their decision. This constant worry causes these leaders to stall every decision until they were sure that everyone was on board. A church could die waiting for their leaders to lead.

Is this sabotage due to human frailty, or human intrigue? Is it possible that there are spiritual dimensions in the sabotage of our churches?

The answer to all of these questions is – yes!

Leaders, we need to lead our flocks and follow our Leader

Dr. Val

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