Here are three hallmarks, I believe, that can help any organization thrive.
Whether you’re a Church or any other organization, if you focus on these three marks, you’ll be likely to thrive, no matter where you are.
This is a reflection on my sermon, “Methodism as a Movement” from the series, An Exploration of Methodism and Its Untimely Relevancy. It’s a four-part series.
They are all about a Personal Experience
When you survey the works of John Wesley, the second phase of Wesley’s Methodism came about after his personal experience of salvation.
This is a man who struggled, especially after his short-term missionary work in Georgia. On his way back to London, he’d choose to join the Moravians to inquire more of his struggles with faith.
It’s during the days of visits with this group that John would have what most historians call “the Aldersgate experience.”
John Wesley, in his writings, described this experience as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. He came to a real and full experience of his personal assurance of salvation.
John would set out to talk about this experience. It reminds me of all the disciples in the book of Acts. Read chapter two.
It doesn’t truly matter how long you’ve been in the Church. But, the question is: “do you have a personal experience of salvation?”
Whether, it’s a Church or any other organization, if whatever you offer does not change people at a personal level, it becomes difficult to thrive as an organization.
It comes down to this question: “what do you have to show?”
- Clarity about what you believe.
- Faithfulness to what you believe.
- Fruitfulness. People should see the fruit, which tells them of who you are. Don’t confuse programs and activities with results. These are life-changing stories, and which are what you should show people.
They Have a culture of Love
In order to help the Methodists, in the case of John Wesley’s movement (Methodism), he organized the entire movement into classes, bands and societies.
Personal relationships among members of any organization are key to the health and growth of the organization. It’s not only something you have to talk about and get your people trained for it.
You need a system in place to support the mindset, not only of learning to love one another. It should be about systems that help Church people or members of your organization grow in love for each other.
John Wesley made sure that this kind of support system was available for all Methodists.
First, the ticket to become a member of the Methodist movement was “the desire to flee from the wrath to come.” When you read the Bible, this desire has to do with the second coming of Jesus Christ as well as your readiness for that day.
Being ready for that day required a choice to live differently. Through Methodist classes, the members held each other accountable for this purpose.
Keep also in mind that if a member did not live up to his or her promises, he or she could be removed from the movement.
Even though, this unfortunate action of removing one from the movement was not the goal, but it was something of which every Methodist was aware.
It takes us back to faithfulness and fruitfulness under the first hallmark for thriving organizations. It also implies results. So the sole purpose, for having classes and bands, was to help the members grow and produce results.
Growth and results only happen in an environment, in which people love and support each other.
They Adjust to Current Realities
In addition to the above two hallmarks, a personal experience and increasing love, you’ve got to adjust to current realities.
But, note that you can’t do any of this if you don’t have the two hallmarks nailed out right. You need everyone on board in order to begin adjusting to your surroundings.
Just as it’s the inner being of an individual that helps them overcome any external force, so is the the health of the organization (Church) that will help you adjust to anything for growth.
You can’t thrive, as an individual or an organization, if you don’t choose to adjust to what’s going on now.
Adjusting means intentionally evolving as a response to your changing surroundings.
Here are the steps you should take to make it happen.
- Step one: Make sure you’re internally healthy. This step has to do with the first and second hallmarks of thriving organizations.
- Step two: Understand your surroundings. Some of the questions that can help you at this point are: Where are you located? Who are the people who live where you’re located? What needs (problems) do they have?
- Step three: Explore. Based on steps one and two, look at all possible actions that will make you leverage what’s out there with the purpose of changing lives. Remember that it’s all about a personal experience. Ask yourself this question in the process: What are the ways that you could possibly consider as means to make a real difference in the lives of people you serve?
- Step four: Change. This is where you get into action. You’re clear with the outcome you desire and how to get there.
I’d recommend you to find someone to help you with these steps, even though you can still do it on your own. In my my district (Northwest district of the United Methodist Church in Iowa), we’ve been using an exercise by the name of Another Set of Eyes.
You may also need another set of eyes for your life or organization. Find a coach, spiritual director, mentor, Pastor, or someone you look up to, to help you be faithful and fruitful in life.
Thriving in life, whether as an individual or an organization, requires the three hallmarks I’ve shared with you.
- First, you should start with a personal experience, which makes up the story you share with people.
- Second, have a way of life that will help you stay on track and produce results (bear fruit) in life.
- Lastly, choose to evolve as a result of adjusting to your surroundings.