lessons learned from a grassroots, almost all volunteer revolution

25 02 2007

if you don’t know what firefox is, you’ve missed out! it quickly became THE web browser for a large segment of the internet-connected world – i personally use it at home and in the office. why? because it’s a smaller program so it’s more nimble and doesn’t use as much memory – also, it does a great job of not opening yourself up to viruses (primarily because it doesn’t run active X all the time is my elementary understanding). Finally, it’s got a cool name! – think about it, internet explorer vs. firefox – which one sounds cooler? thought you’d agree – so…on to the real reason for this post…

this month’s issue of Inc. has a great article.

in essence they take a look at the mozilla management model – in other words, how in the world do they manage thousands of volunteers all over the world and keep them moving in the same direction – that is, having the best, most current version of open-source software for internet browsing available. for what its worth, i thank there may be some things we can learn from them in the church – after all, we too have a ton of volunteers and we’re trying to get them all moving in the same direction. here are their points with my thoughts in italics following…

  1. it’s all about community – they say, “the best decisions are the ones that win the most buy-in from the most people” – my thoughts..i agree that community is the best context for decision making and change to take place in. if we’re in community with people, then there’s a greater propensity for us to arrive at a mutual understanding of our purpose and God’s plan – getting “buy in” is important – but not nearly as important as getting vision from God – that’s His “buy in”
  2. just ask – in other words, when people believe in something, just ask them what they think – my thoughts…wow, makes me want to say, “how simple stupid” – and i wouldn’t be directing it at you – i’d be directing it at me! we know that those people that are volunteering (the largest majority at least) believe in what God has mandated, why don’t we just ask? reminds me of the book by tommy barnett – there’s a miracle in your house – have we looked in our “house” for the miracle, for the answer – God has partnered people with us – get that…”WITH us” – we need to partner with them
  3. lead by following – basically, don’t exert too much control – my thoughts…boy are there a lot of control freaks in the church – in fact, this month’s Rev! magazine has a great article about it…not to say we need to be too loose, but if we trust people, then let’s trust them
  4. nurture renegades – in other words, those going in an opposite direction may be doing so for a reason – firefox came into existence because a couple of renegade programmers broke with the conventional and started developing the open-source software for firefox – my thoughts…what if our greatest opposition could become our greatest supporters – it happens – see #1 above – its got to start with the realization that we’re in community!
  5. think hybrid – in other words, find ways to blend the open-source community with the existing community – my thoughts…so much truth here – why does a person have to teach a sunday school class that involves: teaching, organization, administration, crafts (for children), prayer, etc – why can’t we have one person for the crafts, one for the teaching, etc – think hybrid about volunteers – you’ll open yourself and others to more possibilities if you think this way
  6. think globally – for firefox there’s a world of volunteers waiting to pitch in – my thoughts couldn’t agree more – however, i think we have to begin to see globally first
  7. shut up – for firefox it was about listening to people – which means you’re not talking – my thoughts – wow! again! couldn’t agree more – we need to listen to our volunteers – they know what’s going on in the trenches – we need to value their input – we need to talk less and listen more – in other words, shut up!
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