Congregations make critical decisions about things that really matter – budgets, starting new programs, eliminating programs, personnel. In so many of the decision-making meetings I attend, we spend tons of energy promoting a decision we reached before the meeting even started. People who raise questions are viewed as being antagonistic or unsupportive.

Some organizations pride themselves on making decisions quickly. When we don’t ask enough questions, however, we often realize later that we acted in haste.

It’s time to take a fresh look at how we make decisions. What might happen if we slowed down the decision-making process?

  • God told the prophet Habakkuk to “write the vision and make it plain…” (2:2). Writing our ideas makes us clarify them. Did you know that at Amazon – one of the largest companies in the world – new ideas must be in writing? Founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos implemented a tool known as the “six-page narrative.” Before launching new products, executives must prepare a 3-6 page written proposal. No PowerPoint, charts or graphs: just words, which often require a week or more of focused writing, input from co-workers, multiple revisions and deep reflection.

    New executives at Amazon don’t always know what to make of this, but these intentional, reflective practices may offer wise guidance for Christian leaders. What if we followed the “rule of writing”? What if our decision-making process started with silent reflection?
  • Six-page narratives are not written in isolation because great leadership is more than individual genius. Professor Linda Hill’s TED Talk highlights the power of collective creativity. Creative collaboration and deep reflection tap into the wisdom of the group and give us space and time to notice blind spots, listen for the Spirit’s direction and connect the intellectual (head) with the emotional (heart).

Resources

How to manage for collective creativity

From Linda Hill at TEDxCambridge


Before you go…

The way we make decisions is as important as the decisions we make. Many church leaders are feeling a sense of urgency to “do something.” Although it feels counterintuitive, now may be the perfect time to slow the pace, clarify what you think is important and let God work through your patient listening.

God told Habakkuk to write down the vision so that a herald might “run with it.” The idea of a herald running with the vision is about carrying the good news to others. When leaders make decisions too quickly, we might be the only ones who get that good news.

I hope you feel inspired to take a different approach at your next meeting. Be sure to check out this week’s resources for helpful tips on making better decisions. Peace and blessings!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity