church ministry’s repetition vs iteration

In her book, “How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season”, Susan Beaumont points out that:

“Unfortunately, communities of faith often behave as if past experiences are naturally repetitive.  ‘Out attendance was much higher when we advertised in the yellow pages.  We should advertise in the yellow pages again.’  In liminal seasons we need to learn new responses to changing conditions.  Instead of repeating the past, we must iterate.  Repetition is the recurrence of the same action or even in response to a stimulus.  Repetition is static.  If I do X, it will result in Y.  Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t yield much learning…Iteration also involves doing something again and again.  However, in iteration each new act is influenced by the previous experience and slightly adapted to learn something more.  We focus on incorporating the learning from the experiment and integrating what is novel into what is known”.

In the past, my intention of visiting churches, attending seminars, and reading books is to see how much I can “repeat”.  I also see churches trying very hard (I should say in their best) to “repeat” their work so that their “old glories” are able to be  “repeated”.  It often foreshadowed the decline of the churches.

After our intention of visiting, attending and reading is changed to “iteration”, we will learn and grow.


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