DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Moving Cornerstone from Good to Great

Written by: on September 8, 2016

DC 2016 Day 1. 0550I am not interested in George Fox Evangelical Seminary producing good ministry leaders (pursuant to its mission). I am interested in the seminary applying the principles of Jim Collins’ Good to Great to its Doctor of Ministry program. If we as students were content to be part of good ministries, we would not be investing three years and tens of thousands of dollars in rigorous academic studies. We are investing in what will help us help our ministries move from Good to Great.

I am interested in applying this same desire to Cornerstone School of Ministry in Corvallis, Oregon. I want to see a good school become a great school. A major piece of that greatness will be successfully training international students to lead with greatness when they return to their home countries.

Collins writes, “This book is…ultimately about one thing: the timeless principles of good to great. It’s about how you take a good organization and turn it into one that produces sustained great results, using whatever definition of results best applies to your organisation.” [1]

Collins states that a primary element in Good to Great is having a Level 5 leader. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered if I was/am such a leader. But this question quickly changed to thinking of Jesus as Level 5 leader. Did He not possess both personal humility and professional will? He became obedient to the point of being a servant. He also demonstrated decisiveness in His chastising religious leaders, and bringing a new and shocking group of leaders onto the bus.

What will the Level 5 leader of Cornerstone look like? This will be a conversation focus for Dr. Adam Poole, CSOM director, and myself in the coming months.

Further, as we discuss moving Cornerstone from Good to Great we will need to discuss the metrics by which we measure greatness. As Collins asks, “What do we mean by great results?” [2]

Is our metric, “All students will produce ‘A’ quality work?” Or might our metric be “In six years we will send trained ministry leaders into 6 different countries? Both of these outcomes are good. But how do we measure if we’ve produced leaders of and for great ministries in other countries? I find no quick answer at this time. I believe this quandary must occupy our thinking for years to come. We must ask international students, “What do you need to be a successful leader in your culture?”

Following Collins’ advice, we must think about the right people to have involved running and teaching in Cornerstone. In a ministry where teachers are given a token honorarium, rendering them virtually volunteers, “Early Assessment” is difficult. Ministries like this must guard against the desperation mentality of “getting anyone we can who is willing to teach.

However, since we want teachers and leaders who first demonstrate Christ-like character it is encouraging to read, “In determining the ‘the right people,’ the good to great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.” [3]  Surely this does fit within the value system of a Christian school. We agree with Collins: “Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than with specific knowledge, background, or skills.”  [4]

It is also very helpful to read about great organizations finding the intersect of three circles: What you are deeply passionate about, What you can be the best in the world at, What drives your economic engine (or what drives your resource engine). [5]  This book serves as a starting point for important conversations with Cornerstone leaders to clarify the three circles.

I am vitally interested in discovering what we can be best at. I believe we can begin our conversation by saying that we are interested in creating an international learning community which prepares all participants for cross-cultural ministry.

There is also encouragement to be found in the picture of the Flywheel “Good to great comes about by a cumulative process – step by step, action by action, decision by decisions, turn by turn of the flywheel – that adds up to sustained and spectacular results.” [6]  Over and over Scripture supports the notion of small beginnings, as when Jesus spoke of the mustard seed. So we just keep pushing on that flywheel, knowing that or labor in the Lord is never in vain.

As I think of helping Cornerstone School of Ministry move from Good to Great, I know that each academic essay, each field research report contribute to the dissertation. Each effort in the academic discipline is one more push on the flywheel. The D. Min. and the dissertation will contribute to momentum in our efforts to train international students at Cornerstone.

[1] Jim Collins, Good to Great, (New York, NY:  Harper Collins, 2001) 15.

[2] Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, (2005), 7.

[3] Collins, Good to Great, 51

[4] Ibid., 64.

[5] Collins, Jim. Good to Great, 96.   Good to Great and the Social Sectors, 18.

[6] Collins, Good to Great, 165.

About the Author

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Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

10 responses to “Moving Cornerstone from Good to Great”

  1. Aaron Peterson says:

    Hi Marc. I too applied this book to my current ministry context. Well done!
    What does the conversation with Dr. Poole look like to you? How to do rate humility and professional will in a person?
    I love, “I believe we can begin our conversation by saying that we are interested in creating an international learning community which prepares all participants for cross-cultural ministry.” Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Sounds to me like you are in the right place at the right time.

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      Isn’t it great to have in immediate ministry context in which to apply our learning?

      At this point, having just read these books, I have only seen that Adam and I need to talk about who we have and need on the bus. So, in a preliminary way, I see talking to him about the highlights of Collins, and why his principles are so valuable. I may have him read the short monograph, since it’s pretty accessible. The next part of the conversation would touch on how to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, how the support staff is doing, and who would be best at recruiting international students.

      An important part of this discussion will be about how we can uniquely (best in the world) contribute to international leadership training. This is really the cutting edge for my research.

  2. Aaron Cole says:

    Marc,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the context to your ministry. I really liked your connection to Jesus as a level 5 leader, spot on! In your years of Senior Pastoral experience, what do you think is the most valuable or critical of Collin’s principles?

    See you in London,

    Aaron

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      I think I must pick several of his principles. “Who before what” is key, particularly with an emphasis on character before skill. We know the train wreck that occurs with character failures in leadership. I think this is far worse than mediocre programs.

      Hedgehog is also important. We used to speak of it in terms of having all the (church ministry) arrows pointing in the same direction. The challenge here is that we talked in depth about narrowing the focus of what we tried to do, but the actual elimination of superfluous programs rarely happens, to any significant degree.

      Also important, but challenging for many of us with a pastoral bent regarding people, is that we don’t want to hurt people. Hence, it’s painful to try to encourage people to move to a different seat, or even to a different bus. I see the value of this, but most often lack the resolve to make it happen.

  3. Claire Appiah says:

    Marc,
    I’m with you brother in your statement, “I am not interested in George Fox Evangelical Seminary producing good ministry leaders (pursuant to its mission). I am interested in the seminary applying the principles of Jim Collins’ Good to Great to its Doctor of Ministry program. If we as students were content to be part of good ministries, we would not be investing three years and tens of thousands of dollars in rigorous academic studies. We are investing in what will help us help our ministries move from Good to Great.” Amen to that!
    I suspect the metrics with which you measure greatness at Cornerstone will not be constant, but will evolve over time with higher and higher evolving standards. According to Collins, for the social sector organizations performance must be assessed relative to mission. So, the crucial question is, “How effective do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact relative to our resources?” Collins also indicates in the end it’s all about empirical evidence, not quantitative or qualitative measurements.
    Marc, I wish you the very best in your venture with Cornerstone.

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Claire, thank you. your comment about evolving standards is a great insight and very helpful. This remark will actually guide my conversations with the director and how we work to move Cornerstone from Good to Great.

      I think us questioning ourselves about “how effectively we deliver on our mission” will be a huge contributor to our evaluative process and ultimate outcomes.

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Marc:

    Cornerstone has turned to a passion for you, more than a project. I love the question about, “Am I a Level 5 Leader?” That one challenges me continually, especially when you think you are doing really good and a challenge pops up.

    I am quite interested to watch Cornerstone unfold to its potential. Sorry I missed you this week while in Portland….will see you in a few days though.

    Phil

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Phil,

      I love your comment that Cornerstone has become a passion. You are right. And it has been my hope that the end “product” of Cornerstone will be so much better because I have helped develop it with the standards of D. Min level work. Now have have Good to Great stirred into the stew.

      Yes – sorry I couldn’t connect…family wedding, etc. But – London here we come!

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