Faith Communities and Learning Organizations LO21845

Bryant, JB (
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 08:41:57 -0400

Replying to LO21827 --

I would be very interested in this dialog. If Rick continues the thread
here we'll do it here. Otherwise, private dialog is welcome.

[Host's Note: discussion about change and learning in faith communities is
fine here on the LO list. If it becomes a discussion on religion, I'd
prefer that it go off-list. I suspect there is a lot of overlap with
conventional orgs. ...Rick]

I come from the perspective of corporate Knowledge Management. However, my
background is in theology (I have an M.Div. and have done some D.Min.
work). Since I joined the KM bandwagon I have thought about how its
principles could be be applied to my service to the church. I've wondered
if anyone has applied the principles and insights of KM to the church.

I happened upon a book in our local library's used book sale. A far as I
knew it was the only of its type. It is _The Learning Congregation_ by
Thomas R. Hawkins. I was excited to find this little paperback when I saw
it and snatched it up quickly. however, when I reads it I was frustrated
and disappointed.

What I had hoped for was a theologically sound, scripture-based look at
the church that would pull org learning and KM principles as appropriate.
What I found instead was just another business book for churches -- and
not a particularly good one at that. Hawkins basically ignored scripture
or things specifically Christian and gave church administrators a lesson
in business management. There were really no theological ties at all. I
don't have the book or my notes near me and my memory is not all that
good, so I can't offer specific criticisms. But there were several points
at which I felt that Hawkins moved away from God and His purpose for the
church. It was uncomfortable to me. The church once again was becoming
indistinguishable from the world's systems and organizations.

I still believe there are some principles from Org Learning and KM that
can rightly be applied to the church. The church is people, and these
fields are about people. The church is about growth, and these fields are
about people growing. The church is heavy on the need for effective
communication and education, and these fields are all about effective
communication and education (whatever we want to call these).

Amazon.Com lists 6 other books as recommendations for people interested in
Hawkins' book. They are:
* The Innovative Church : Seven Steps to Positive Change in Your
Congregation (Merton P. Strommen)
* Mapping Christian Education : Approaches to Congregational Learning (Jack
L. Seymour)
* Healthy Congregations : A Systems Approach (Peter L. Steinke)
* The Spectacle of Worship in a Wired World : Electronic Culture and the
Gathered People of God (Tex Sample )
* Deeply Woven Roots : Improving the Quality of Life in Your Community (Gary
Gunderson, Jimmy Carter)
* Ten Strategies for Preaching in a Multimedia Culture (Thomas H. Troeger)

I don't know if you or someone else can make recommendations about these
or others but I'd be interested.

Again, as long as Rick doesn't mind, I'm interested in continuing this
dialog here.

J.B. Bryant
Knowledge Strategist
Chemical Abstracts Service
(614) 447-3838 ext. 2503

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <>
Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>