Sunday, February 17, 2008

Starbucks Venti Into Retraining

It seems that Starbucks baristas don't know how to make a decent latte any more. Far from its roots as the reliable place to get coffee perfectly made, the chain has lately become famous for its automatic machines and the hit-or-miss quality of its products. Checkout the links below for the full story.

You see nationwide for three hours on Tuesday, February 26 every Starbucks will close for retraining. Starting at 5:30 p.m., baristas in the coffee giant's 7,100 stores will learn how to do things better. They'll learn how to make a perfect shot, how to steam milk, and hopefully how not to burn coffee. While it's doubtful that three hours of training will reverse years of gathering mediocrity, it's certainly symbolic of a company that wants to get back to basics like quality coffee and superior service.

If retraining is important for companies (especially companies that focus on retail) how much more important is it for the church to retrain and refocus on the essentials, love God and love others.

Jesus practiced this technique of training, sending, regrouping for further Kingdom work. Take a look at Luke 9:1-11. He sends out the twelve and when they return Jesus takes them away for m ministry for debriefing and further training. Their time of retraining only lasted for a short time. Just like Starbucks’ customers, the crowds couldn’t handle Jesus and his disciples being unavailable and they followed Jesus and company out into the country. This set up one of Jesus more dramatic miracles, the feeding of 5000 (men). This event continued the twelve’s additional training as they learned that Jesus was provider as well as healer.

I know that the disciples could not have been all that happy having to go back to serving the masses, especially since that had just experienced the power of God in their ministry. They had preached, taught and performed miracles themselves and I’m sure wanted to swap war stories and talk about their past experiences. Instead they were asked to put the past into focus and get busy with the present ministry needs. Jesus forced them to be outwardly focused when they were still busy celebrating the past. I’ve known churches that still revel in telling the war stories of bygone days and then wonder why no new ministry is taking place.

Sometimes we are so inwardly focused that we forget our reason for being here in earth is to go and make disciples. Often God calls us to Go where we are, other times God calls us to leave and go. Regardless, this is not a one-time event but rather a lifetime of experiences. Matthew 28:19-20.

Going where I am,

Dr. Val

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Institutionalism vs. Organizationalism

Previously I addressed the difference between an organism vs. organization. Today I’d like to share a few thoughts about organizations when compared to institutions.

Organization (def.) - an administrative and functional structure, characterized by complete conformity to the standards and requirements of an organization.

Institution (def.) a place for the care or confinement of inmates. A well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships. Any established law or custom, a familiar, long-established person, thing, or practice, a fixture.

If I could distill these definitions down it would be rigid and more rigid. Recently I was considering the difference between endoskeletons and exoskeletons. Organisms that have endoskeletons are more flexible and capable of change. But organisms with exoskeletons are much more rigid. The former can be messy, giving, flexible and outward focused, while the later is ordered, ungiving, inflexible, fixed, and inward focused.

A community that is inwardly focused has developed entropy and will ultimately fail. While an outwardly focused community, while at times messy, is full of life and ultimately organic. The opposite of organic is inorganic, inert or just plain dead.

Our Lord did not die to establish a group of believers who would solidify into an institution with an exoskeleton with a hard shell for protection. A body of believers who were ungiving with their time, talents and treasures, nor inflexible in their attitudes toward a world who did not acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, nor a group of people who’s only focus was inward and what this church could do for them, personally.

No, rather Christ gave His life to develop a church that was messy but vibrant, giving and compassionate, and outwardly focused on advancing the Kingdom and loving others. A body with an endoskeleton is soft on the outside with just enough skeletal integrity to hold up the structure and allow it to function as it was designed. This type of structure allows others to get close and to establish relationships.

What a great God we served that he would choose to use broken people who are willing to morph into the people of God he wants us to be.

The entire body working together to fulfill Father’s purpose on earth.

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,

Dr Val