Healthy Church? School? Community? 12 ways to tell:

by Rod Smith

Sabotaged? Expect it...

Sabotaged? Expect it...

TWELVE signs or indications of a healthy community (church, business, not-for-profit)….

1. There is focused chaos. The organism is filled with activity as all pursue shared and individual goals with varying degrees of interest and intensity.

2. There are regular conflicts over resources like rooms, cars, buses, schedules, computers, washing machines, washing powder, driers, refrigerators, kitchens, and copy machines.

3. There are frequent tussles over new vs. old, loud vs. soft, younger vs. older, traditional vs. contemporary, and over what does or does not constitute healthy, respectful fun (dress, hairstyles, you name it!)

4. There are leaders, but it can be hard to tell exactly who they are. Leadership in a healthy community is not about age, experience or hierarchy, but about who understands what is needed of a particular leadership role, and at a particular time. In other words, the recognized leaders may “disappear” when person better equipped at a particular task steps up. Real leaders, also being good followers, can be led when necessary and so the community might sometimes forget who the appointed leaders are.

5. There are regular, natural celebrations that occur in spite of a leader’s desires to inspire such celebrations.

6. There are times when it seems impossible to get all the key people together at one time, and so the persons in leadership of different groups and projects continually embrace compromise and approximation. People are not punished for their unavailability but supported for their continued work toward the greater goals of the community.

7. The weak members of a healthy community are embraced, accepted and challenged, but they do not set (or sabotage) the agenda even though they will quite naturally attempt to do so. Strength and vision set the agenda and the weak are challenged to grow and mature and heal and become strong rather than they are encouraged to hold back the communities natural growth. The leaders of healthy communities are often accused of being “insensitive” or uncaring or overly ambitious by persons who are so-called “needy.”

8. Like faith, hope, and love, – negotiation, conflict, and competition are always with us; and the greatest of these is approximation.

9. Flexibility is highly valued by all the members of the community. The use of cars, rooms, times, and evenings are juggled almost all the time in a healthy and growing community.

10. Empathy and consensus are nice ideals, and they are encouraged, but they do not “carry the day.” The healthy community knows that empathy has it legitimate place but tends to be over-rated for its helpfulness. In healthy communities, the leaders believe challenge is more useful than is empathy, and while healthy communities are also to be empathic communities, empathy is not the reason for its existence. Consensus is often the cop-out (“we just couldn’t come to a reasonable consensus”) when leaders lack nerve.

11. In healthy communities, all people’s views and voices are valued, but of course, not all are given equal power or weight. Weight (power) to an idea or a decision is given by how much responsibility a person holds and what their investment is in the organization.

12. In a healthy community, responsibility and authority go hand-in-hand.

Rod Smith is available to help you find greater health in your community.

3 Comments to “Healthy Church? School? Community? 12 ways to tell:”

  1. Spectacular – from my perspective watching your postings is like witnessing an ultra-marathon of the mind.

    How do you maintain the quality of your prodigious output ?

    I’m thinking it is because of the clarity of your thinking, subtle understanding of your words and dedication of your time !

    While I realise it is probably part of the responsibilities your ‘day’ job, thanks for sharing your eloquent words of wisdom nonetheless.

  2. Lighthouse, thanks.

    Your observations are always encouraging and welcome. In my day job I teach English Lit. at a private school where my children attend. (How else could I afford two boys in private school?)

    Outside of that, I teach for The University of the Nations, consult with families and individuals, churches, businesses and schools, and try to stay ahead of the laundry and the dishes.

    My desire to communicate I believe, comes from a debilitating stutter that silenced me as a child.

    Silent no longer. Peace to you. Thanks for being a regular reader and frequent responder.

    Rod Smith

    317 694 8669

  3. These are great standards! thanks for sharing.

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