The Agroinnovations podcast had a two part interview with Allan Savory on Holistic Management. As I listened to Savory talk about holistic goals rather than mission or vision statements dots started connecting in my mind. As I learn more about facets of sustainable agriculture, I make more and more connections to the church, ministry and theology. In some ways I think we can learn a lot about organization and life by looking at nature and reflecting on why and how things work. As Savory talked about holistic goals this is where my mind wandered…
Savory describes the way land management adopted certain approaches to organizing its life and work. It assumes that its methods are correct and measures for their success or failure. In holistic management land management begins with the question, “What do you want to accomplish on this land?” a very missional question. In this paradigm you assume failure and measure for your goal.
The church (as with most organizations and institutions) usually assumes that its methods are correct. It measures only for success or failure. How many members are there? Are we growing? How many conversions? How many programs do we have? The goal is defined by what is measured. So, unwittingly we become slaves of what we measure. A more holistic approach asks first what is the goal, or telos, of the church.
What would be a holistic goal for church X? Would it always be the same (for land management it is very context specific)? What if we assumed failure? What would we measure differently or at all in order to assess our progress towards this holistic goal?
How would our churches look and feel different if we took this holistic approach to managing the business of church?
I find it interesting that perhaps the church as well as farming could learn a lot by returning to observing nature more closely. I’m hoping to highlight more of these connections as I make them in the future.
Thanks for listening to the podcast. I much appreciate your thoughtful comments here, and your attempt to relate to some of Allan Savory’s ideas to your life and church. I think a church stands much to gain by managing holistically, and developing a holisticgoal you might find that you actually have ways to get your members involved with land management and food production in one way or another. So, first step is forming a holisticgoal. There’s plenty of literature on how to do this; visit http://www.holisticmanagement.org