Is bigger really better? Let me give you a scenario: a small church is started whereby the congregation and clergy tend to their faith and enjoy spiritual harmony. Inevitably, someone suggests constructing a bigger building to encourage membership. A mortgage is secured from a bank, construction begins, and indeed membership starts to grow. So much so, new facilities are added and modifications are made to the building until it becomes a landmark of the community. This, of course, forces the church to become more financially motivated to sustain their operations and recruiting campaigns are initiated to bring in more members. Suddenly, members begin to realize they are more consumed with the business of the church as opposed to practicing their faith, and membership begins to decline.
Feeling the effects of a financial squeeze, the church asks for more offerings from the congregation, which helps for a while, but membership continues to decline. Inevitably, the church can no longer sustain their operation and are forced to sell the property and move into more humble facilities.
Sound familiar? This scenario is played out every day not only in a multitude of churches and temples, but in fraternal organizations, nonprofit groups, and in small companies. The yearn to grow beyond their means is simply irresistible to some people. The problem is people tend to lose sight of their product, which, in the church’s case, is the spiritual well-being of the congregation. Any time you forget your mission, your product, you are inviting disaster.
So, is bigger truly better? Not necessarily. What we are seeing is a form of the Peter Principle whereby we grow our organizations beyond our level of competency to control. Personally, I tend to believe we build these huge edifices more for ego than for practicality. This puts us in a position of financially chasing our tail and losing sight of our original purpose. Next time someone suggests building something on a grand scale, instead of just asking, “What will it cost us?”, how about “Who is it going to really serve?”
Understand this, a week doesn’t go by where an ornate church or Masonic lodge isn’t put up for sale or demolished. If you find your leaders are more consumed about finances as opposed to the organization’s mission, the end is near.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
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