Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

It’s Rocket Science

Written by: on April 11, 2013

This week’s reading was, Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatly. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think, but after the first few pages I found myself in a leadership page-turner! Not what I expected.

She begins by chronicling the rise of Newtonian Science and its ability to remove chaos from the world and to give explanation and systematic order for everything that happens. She connects this rise of order and removal of chaos to the rise of leadership in contemporary organizations whose goal is similarly to remove chaos, disruption and confusion so they can be predictable, efficient, profitable and systematic.

Wheatly’s description of organizations in general is especially pertinent to churches in particular. As I read Wheatly, I realized how much my own church operates on a modern mindset.  We have to have everything planned, figured out, and buttoned up to keep at bay the forces of chaos, disorganization and inefficiency. This is particularly troubling if the Holy Spirit decides to do something a little bit out of the norm.

 Wheatly contrasts the rise of Newtonian science and its effects on organizations with the rise of Quantum Physics, which focuses on a molecular level.  In Quantum Physics the Newtonian laws begin to break down. Things that shouldn’t happen based on Newton’s laws begin to happen. As I was reading Wheatly, I talked to a friend who did his PHD in Rocketry. He is probably one of the smartest persons I know. He said that when he was an undergrad he had to philosophically reject Quantum Physics because it ran so counter to Newtonian science. I couldn’t help but make the parallel between the rise of Quantum Physics in science and the rise of post-modernity in Western culture. Post-modernity challenges the assumptions of modernity and many have rejected it outright because it runs against the modern narrative.  

More and more of our culture is becoming postmodern, particularly those who are disconnected from a life of faith, as well as Christians who are walking away from the institutional church because of its institutionalism. They can’t see themselves fitting in with a large organization that cares about its own longevity more often than it should. One quote from Wheatly in particular stands out to me. She writes “ It makes we wonder how we will design our organizations in the future. As we struggle with the designs that will replace bureaucracy, we must invent organizations where process is allowed it’s varied-tempo dance, where structures come and go as they support the work that needs to get done, and where forms arise to support the necessary relationships. “(loc 1191).

As it relates to the church I have several questions from this reading.

       Is the way we go about church too informed by Newtonian science?

       Should we be grateful for modern churches, but figure out how to transition to a Quantum model? And what does that look like?

       What are the two most important leadership qualities for the church in a Quantum model?

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