Monday, July 2, 2012

Principles of Openness

An aspiring young leader with whom I am acquainted shared this video on her Facebook page recently. The speaker Don Tapscott explores four meanings and principles of openness:

  • Collaboration
  • Transparency
  • Sharing
  • Empowerment

Tapscott illustrates these principles with examples primarily from the world of business, but as I watched the video I was thinking about them in regard to the Church in the modern world and in regard to Christian organizations. If Tapscott correctly describes the powerful shift that is occurring right now, how should the Church engage with the “new” world and what will the Church of the coming generations look like? What do we need to change to become more open? How do we increase transparency and sharing? It strikes me that, among other possibilities, we must release hierarchical control and direction and invite open conversation and dialog within the Church.

Of course some might disagree with Tapscott's fundamental arguments. He states: “The arc of history is a positive one and it's toward openness.” Some worldviews and some theologies would not affirm this statement. They do not see the world's trajectory as positive and therefore tend to resist and reject transition as moving away from some earlier ideal state. At best they remain sceptical toward change. Coming from such a perspective, one might fight against increased openness because of fear. Increased openness certainly threatens traditional power structures, so if one's position or worldview depends on the maintenance of those structures, one could be expected to fight against any threat to that power.

What do you think? Is the move to increasing openness inevitable and is it positive? If so, how should we respond within the community of Christ-followers, both in the Church as the global body of Christ and in organizations where Christians come together to work toward kingdom purposes?

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