Faith Communities and Learning Organizations LO21873

AM de Lange (
Wed, 9 Jun 1999 14:32:43 +0200

Replying to LO21845 --

Dear Organlearners,

"Bryant, JB" <> writes:

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

Greetings "JB",

I will support such a dialogue.

>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 once heard in a sermon the following compelling sentence:
Believers are so buzy with the things of the Lord that they
never have time for the Lord of the things.
I am thinking of a sentence with a corresponding meaning:
Managers are so buzy with the things of the human that they
never have time for the human of the things.

Knowledge (K), Management (M) and KM are things of the human. We
should take care not to fix our focus on them, but always begin by
focusing on the human which they have to serve. When the focus gets
fixed on them, the death warrant of the FC (Faith Community) has been

It seems as if I now have given my support to humanism rather than to
the God of the human. No, it is not the case. The human is essential
to any God-human relationship, whatever that God may be. This is a
phenomenological truth and has nothing to do with any particular
religion. In the Christian religion this God-human relationship is
unique in the person of Jesus of Nazareth -- God who has become human
to pave the way for humans to become the friends of God.

Knowledge is the outcome (being) of a process (becoming) called
"learning". To separate the being from its becoming is to kill it.
This is one of the serious warnings of James in his epistle in terms
of faith and deeds. Furthermore, knowledge itself is the input to a
process of which the outcome is culture. This process is often called
"applying", but it is only the second phase of "learning". The overall
picture is:
I myself do not focus on the [knowledge] in the centre, but allow my
focus to scan from left [human] to right [culture], ensuring that I do
not skip the processes (learning-1) and (learning-2). When in doubt, I
go back to the beginning. When in serious doubt, I go specifically to
the human Jesus -- the one who was addressed as "didaskalos" (teacher,
rabbi) by the people. It has always been successful.

That is why any paragraph like the following will always catch my

>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

I am sorry to hear it. Your reasons did not surprise me. I have been
serving in the consistory of a number of congregations the past thirty
years. I am now getting close to my limit of patience with the
meetings of such consistories. They are by far plain business meetings
which are seldom concerned with the beginning point in the
[being]-(becoming) diagram

>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.


>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).

First of all, why not follow the advice of James -- follow faith up
with deeds. If you need such a book and it is not available, then
write your own book. But do take care, if it needs twenty years to
produce a worthy book, then do not try to rush it in two years. I
believe that there is an incredible need for such a book -- a modern
equivalent for the once trusted Pilgrim's Progress.

Secondly, the church is in this world, but not from this world. Since
it is in this world, it has many correspondences with properties of
this world. For example, the Law of Gravity applies to a member of the
church exactly the same as to a non-member. (This law results in the
property which we call weight.) It is self-destructing foolishness for
the church to deny all the ramifications of the fact that it is part
of this world. But what does it mean that the church is not from this
world? God the Holy Spirit guides His children to emerge to wisdom
(the sapient level of knowledge) which pleases God the Father. To be
not from this world is to allow for the back-action of this wisdom on
our creativity rather than the wisdom of the world when there is any

It is one of my goals in life to help other people to focus on Law of
Entropy Production (LEP) as the primordial cause this side of Creation
for all the creativity of Creation. It is this LEP which tells us more
about the interplay between chaos and order by which Creation develops
to greater complexity. To study LEP, complexity, creativity and all
its emergents of higher levels are not for the weak hearted. If the
time has come for some members of the church to do such studies, then
it is time for them to recognise such time and to do something about
it. If the world's wisom says that it is insane, so let it be. This is
why the church is in this world, but not from this world. My recent
contribution "Spontaneity in faith LO21830" illustrates one small step
towards this goal.

It may seem to you that I go too far -- jumping on the bandwagon of
complexity science. It is nothing of the sort. In fact, I find myself
often far away from the bandwagon of complexity science. For example,
you will not find anybody else who write on "free energy" as one of
the key issues to understand complexity. To be on any bandwagon is to
stop playing any tune other than that of the bandwagon. To stiffle
anybody's creativity is no less than to deny God Creator who images
His creativity in Creation with humans intended to carry the crown.

We are now ready to enter the third millenium. What few people
realise, is that a paradigm shift is happening among humans like the
one which happened two and a half millenia ago all over the world. It
is not something caused by the Bible just as the one 2500 years ago
was not caused by the Torah (Old Testament) since it also happened
even in the far East, Africa and the Americas. Socrates and Confuscius
are two players in a much bigger game. It is part of the development
of nature and culture on the planet earth -- part of the plan of the
Creator. Obviously, as such it must have a great influence on all
religions in general and the Christian religion in particular. The
first paradigm shift had a similar influence. It led to the so called
silent years of the Bible, the years between the Old Testament and the
New Testament.

Every paradigm shift is a transformation (radical change in form) in
the noosphere of humankind. The two paradigm shifts which I had been
talking about, are grand transformations in the noosphere of
humankind. The key to understand them is creativity. The first grand
transformation was the transition from the child age of human
creativity to its adolloscent age. The present one is its transition
to its adult age. It began approximately a hundred years ago and like
the former one will last a couple of centuries.

Just like the Christians of the early church had to transform their
theology from the Old Testament to what we now know as the New
Testament (see for example the epistle to the Hebrews), the children
of God will have to be willing to transform their theology once again.
If not, their theology will once again follow the road to Qumram
rather than to Damascus. Christianity is but one of many religions.
They will also be subjected to this grand transformation. The result
will not be the unification of all religions into one unitary
religion, just as it was not the case two and a half millenia ago. The
result will be a completely new viewpoint on believing, faith and
religions. Half a millenium ago the church had to learn a very
important lesson when science emerged to maturity, beginning with the
work of Copernicus. If the church fails once again to learn from the
past, it has only itself to blame.

I believe that the concepts of a Learning Individual and a Learning
Organisation (or what humans will call them by the time the second
grand transformation has been completed) will play a key role in the
coming age of creativity. If I understood less of complexity, I would
have been surprised about the indifference of members of the church to
these two concepts.

However, here is something for you to chew upon until you are ready to
swallow and digest it. The highest level to which a Learning
Organisation can emerge, is the Faith Community.

>[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]

Thanks Rick for your fine hosting.

Best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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