I just returned from a week in Barcelona, Spain. The first half of the week was dedicated to the development of our staff in Western Europe. Ministry in Europe has been difficult for years–in some ways, ever since WWII. Post war Europe became very doubtful and skeptical of Christianity. The history of discouragement and settling for something less in ministry is clear among many missionaries. Once a missionary or a ministry begins to “settle” for something less than the organizational calling all kinds of bad decisions can be made. The corresponding results take a ministry off center–and the unique contribution that the organization was meant to make in the body is lost. At the end of the day, “settling” happens because leadership fails to keep mission critical things central in the life of every member of the organization.
A large portion of our time together in Spain was spent trying to better determine what the core DNA of every staff member in Europe should be. DNA is the basic component of life that makes someone or something truly unique and identifiable. The notion of cloning is not the goal according to God’s design. Both of my children have Runn DNA in them–yet to any who have been around my kids it is obvious that their expression of “Runn-ness” is vastly different between them. It is the concept of a core identity with freedom of expression. That was what we were after in Spain. We wanted the irreducible minimum. And we wanted to stay principle and value based–not method driven. In other words–if a staff member has the core DNA in value form embedded in their ministry lives then there can actually be great freedom in strategies and methods. This will actually provide the breeding ground for great innovation–and leadership can be confident that the creative methods will not lead to another destination–because the core DNA is in place. Core DNA can be a commitment to certain values, messages, etc.–but try avoid a commitment to methods. Whatever is core must be talked about and modeled a lot–especially by leadership. This is the stuff that you will get tired talking about as a leader. Its the stuff you must reinforce and reward all the time. The organizational atmosphere must emphasize the core.
We took the first step in thinking through this for our setting–it is still a work in progress. Things of this importance take time and prayer. For not only is the list important, but so is the means of delivery. Our work is not done–but the implications are huge–for building the kingdom of God and for retaining healthy staff.