Stumbled on a fantastic review of Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do?, at Bill Dahl’s blog. His review is so good you may be tempted not to buy Jarvis’ book. Key take away point for me? The significance of relationships in Google’s model of business. Jarvis writes, “It’s about people and making new connections among them. It all comes back to relationships.” p .22. Reflecting on that idea, Dahl goes on to identify a crucial practice for church leaders—listening.
You must realize that your crowd – your users, customers, voters, Students, audience, neighbors – is wise. The next questions should be: How do you capture and act on that wisdom? How do you listen? How do you enable them to share their wisdom with each other and with you? How do you help them make you smarter (and why should they bother)? Do you have the systems in place to hear? Do you have the culture in place to act on what you hear?” p. 88
What if churches took more time listening than doing? Rather than coming with all the answers, coming with all the questions? Asking themselves, what is the Spirit of God doing in people’s lives right now—inside and outside their congregations? How can we respond? This reminds me Mark Lau Branson’s excellent book, Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change, where he develops a practice of congregational listening. Branson makes the case that seeds of innovation are often in the lives of the people, rather than the minds of the leaders. That’s a difficult concept for many church leaders to get their minds around. The irony is that we tend to love business models when it comes to leading. Maybe Google’s counter-intuitive approach may be a way to encourage more church leaders to practice listening when it comes to leading. If you’d like to think about this further, check out Bill Dahl’s entire review of What Would Google Do? on his blog.