This table, based on Peter Senge’s
systems archetype of a Reinforcing Process (visionary minority) bringing a
trend of change to Balancing Process (pragmatic majority) illustrates the two
differences between these two components of every social group. There are
subtle but very important differences. Any social group has a visionary
minority and a pragmatic majority. Both the early Methodists and giant cell
churches practice their spiritual disciplines squarely within the realm and
with the characteristics of the pragmatic majority. They are very comfortable
with routinely obeying minute instructions. This reality has far ranging
implications. Generally, it is assumed that an innovative, visionary minority
(antithesis) brings new methods to an existing status quo (thesis); the interaction
produces a new reality (synthesis). This is the simplest form of cultural
MODULE 1: SYSTEMIC APPROACHES TO CHANGE
Section 1: The Balancing Loop in Peter Senge=s Limits to Growth Archetype
The image for a Reinforcing Loop is a snowball rolling downhill increasing in momentum and intensity. Happiness is an emerging trend.
The image for a Balancing Loop is a teeter-totter; happiness is keeping everything in balance.
Reinforcing Loop Balancing Loop
Emerging Trend Smooth Cycles
Brings Change Preserves Stability
Big Picture Micro-managers
Responds to Potential Responds to Anxiety
Ready to gamble Risk averse
Visionary Minority – 16% Pragmatic majority – 84%
Church of Piety (sect) Church of Power (church)
Antithesis Thesis and Synthesis
External focus Inward focus
Evangelism Resistance to Growth
Ignores Limits Prevents Competency Limits
Out of control Under control
Pushes the trend Thermostat
If this simple model of change
typified by Peter Senge=s
systems archetype Limits to Growth were accurate in it=s application to the cell church and to
discipleship system, you would find that they would be more similar to the
characteristics of the Reinforcing Loop above, in process with the Balancing
loop of the traditional church. Such a discipleship system would be similar to
the constantly changing, innovation seeking model advised by what is called
today the Aemergent
church.@ But the
discipleship system practiced by the cell church and by Wesley was definitely
an innovation compared to the existing churches in those environments, but the
methods themselves more resemble a balancing or pragmatic majority structure
rather than a reinforcing or visionary minority structure.
John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 139-141.
Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 40-48, 15-20.
NOTE (my response)
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html
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.