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11 years ago

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EffvseffpicLast week I preached about a topic called Subsidiarity. It really takes root in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. I love the term but it can easily be confused with just trying to make things more efficient. It should not be looked at that way. Instead, it should be seen as a way to make a system more effective.

In mechanical terms efficiency and effectiveness are almost always synonymous. Make a machine better, faster, and more error free and you will get a more effective machine. But people are not machines. In fact, the more you treat people like machines the more they break down. I think discipleship demonstrates this principle very well. The harder we try to streamline the process the worse it becomes. The more we try to do it in mass, the less it sticks. By spending time on marketing, presentation, and expedition the less effective we truly are.

  • Efficiency says, “let’s get more people in the room.” Effectiveness says, “let’s spend as much time with the ones who want to be here.”
  • Efficiency says, “let’s try to make this happen faster.” Effectiveness says, “let’s spend as much time as it takes.
  • Efficiency says, “let’s focus on the group.” Effectiveness says, “let’s focus on the individual.”
  • Efficiency says, “let’s put on a disciple event.” Effectiveness says, “let each one make one disciple who can make one disciple.”
  • Efficiency says, “let’s cater to the crowds.” Effectiveness says, “let me spend 3 years focused mainly on 12 people… one of whom will betray me.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to be effective for Christ, not efficient.

I’m not sure Christ will be impressed with our focus on efficiency. I know he will be pleased that we tried to follow his model of making disciples. 

I really like this video by Ken Robinson, a pioneer in education. If you just replace education with “Religious Education” or Discipleship” I think you will see a very similar trend in the U.S. There are so many instances where the pressure to perform eclipses the awe of God and it causes many to drop out of church. How can we be more effective rather strive to be more efficient?

4 Replies to “Effective VS Efficient”

  1. The twin E’s! While the focus should not be on efficiency it needs to be a part of what we do and who we are. Without it that 3 year discipleship with a group of 12 might have stretched into 10 years and would those 12 really be more prepared at the end of 10 year than they were at the end of 3 years? Yes, we need to focus on effectiveness, but effectiveness is always balanced by it’s twin. Otherwise we might be effective in equipping a person, but at some point it is more efficient to turn this person loose and become efficient by giving the opportunity to turn 1 effective person into 2 effective people. I think the key is which twin one will be our main focus, but the other is always close behind it. Right?

    1. I like you point Mark, not sure I agree with it fully. Still need to think about it. If we look at the life of Jesus we see that the end result dictates the methods. If making disciples who make disciples who… is the end result, there has to be both a disciple-making part, and a part where disciples making disciples in the method. (I think I just confused myself) If the result is to simply make a disciple (it would stop with them) then I think there could be no end, like the example you gave. This the point I think we have largely lost our church culture. The goal is not to be the best equipped disciple, but to actually make disciples. Jesus sent his “unfinished” guys out a couple of times to do just that and show them how they were not quite ready. I’m not saying you are wrong, but I think the system is messed up. In the current culture we have to have some kind of efficiency, but that might just be code for, “get off your fat, lazy rears and make some disciples.” I need to think about this more and really look at do we need to have efficiency as part of that model…

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