Starfish Delegation:

I thought I should continue this delegation conversation today.  A post from yesterday gave me an idea about yet another kind of delegation — starfish delegation.  What do you know about starfish?  Do you know if you cut off one of the legs of a starfish, not only does the leg grow back, but the leg that is cut off grows into another starfish?  Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom write in their book, The Starfish and the Spider, how effective starfish organizations can be.  The idea of a starfish organization is one that is leaderless.  Now when they unpack the principles in their book they talk a lot about decentralized leadership in organizations.  Sort of a quasi-leaderless organization. They document the power in these types of organizations.

The authors feature organizations like Ebay and Alcoholics Anonymous.  When I think of the principle what came to my mind time and time again in reading the book was the church.  Yes the church has an ultimate leader in Jesus Christ, but you could totally wipe out the church in one country and it would continue to thrive elsewhere.  There is not a command and control area for the church worldwide.  It is decentralized with many legs (keeping with the starfish analogy).   You can recognize the church around the world.  Each church has certain things in common with others around the world.  We’re like a huge family of interdependent organisms.  In fact the Bible refers to us sometimes in terms that relate to an organism, not an organization.  It’s kind of neat to think of the world-wide church being leaderless in one sense, but being a lot alike no matter where you go.  We really are a de-centralized bunch.  Although it’s not starfish delegation, I think the next development in church growth may just fit that category.

I started thinking of the recent phenomenon of satellite locations that churches plant.  They are a part of the mother church, but led by another person.  With the use of video everyone experiences the same person preaching, but many times there is live worship that is unique to that satellite.  That’s not totally universal.  In some cases it’s all video.  In other cases it’s different pastors preaching a similar sermon.  Think of the trust that the leader of the church places in that satellite pastor.  The church is not leaderless, but the decision-making and carrying out of the vision becomes decentralized quickly.  Many churches have more than one satellite.  Some have quite a few.  We have a video cafe.  That isn’t quite the same as a satellite, but it is a step in that direction.  It takes putting trust in the leaders there to make sure that worship in the cafe matches the environment of what happens in the  main auditorium.  Here are the things I think must be in the satellite pastor’s make-up for something like this to work.

  • He/She need to embody the vision and mission of the church.
  • They need to understand the values that are the underlying foundation of the church.
  • The senior leader needs to know that person so well, that they can predict how the satellite pastor will respond to situations that may change the course of that site.
  • They need to have enough of an independent spirit to lead the site well, but humble enough to lead like the senior leader would want them to.

I’m sure there are other characteristics of a satellite pastor.  We haven’t had to hire one, so I’m thinking through what that person needs to look if they are going to lead a part of the organization this is seperated by a great distance from the mother site.  In a real sense I think we are talking about starfish delegation here.  And you know what, the growth in these churches is explosive.  And these churches are powerful forces in their communities.

I’ve gone on long enough.  I’d encourage you to get the book and read it.  Let me know what you think.  I believe they are on to something.

That’s this leader’s view.

Blessings,

Dave

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