Small, incremental changes are normal in nature. Jesus spoke of the organic, incremental nature of the kingdom: To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened (Luke 13:20-21).Organic reinforcing processes create a multiplying trend like water lilies in a pond; each day they double. At first a few lilies appear in a corner, the next day a few more. When they cover a fourth of the pond, people begin to wonder if they should do something. The next day they cover half the pond, and a meeting is set up to discuss the problem of lilies. On the day of the meeting, the lilies multiply to fill the entire pond. Organic growth is incremental and gradual, but the increments multiply rather than increasing by addition. A change starts small and innocuous, so that resistance doesn’t seem necessary and that there will be plenty of time for a correction. But the small changes multiply in the background to the point where change becomes unstoppable; Senge indicates that this S-shaped or sigmoidal growth pattern is everywhere in nature. Whether the change is like leaven (Matthew 13:33), like lilies in pond, or the conversion of a people group, the organic approach brings total change through inexorable incrementalism without triggering a balancing process correction.
 The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.
   
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.
Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art And Practice of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 83.
Peter Senge et al., The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 7.