Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How the Mighty Fall

A friend alerted me to an article in Business Week entitled “How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs” by business researcher Jim Collins. Collins' work includes the influential and informative Built to Last and Good to Great. The article is based on his new book How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In.

I have not read the book yet but I think some of his comments in the article may speak to observations I have made previously about the lifecycle of a local congregation. Collins writes, “Every institution is vulnerable, no matter how great. There is no law of nature that the most powerful will inevitably remain at the top. Anyone can fall, and most eventually do.”

Once again, I affirm that the church as the body of Christ will endure, but many local expressions may not. Collins offers some warning signs beginning with “hubris borne of success.” This is a warning to us who think that because we are on “God’s business” that we are “too big to fail.”

Life brings challenges for organizations and for churches. This is to be expected. Collins acknowledges that any organization will encounter difficulty (even some of those he has profiled in previous books as success stories). He points out:

"The signature of the truly great vs. the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty. It's the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before. Great nations can decline and recover. Great companies can fall and recover. Great social institutions can fall and recover. And great individuals can fall and recover. As long as you never get entirely knocked out of the game, there remains hope."

I look forward to reading the book and will share comments when I do. You might be interested in it as well.

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