Integral Principles

I sometimes imagine what it might be like if an entire spiritual community had a complete understanding of integral principles. I am not implying that until they do, that they are less than, deficient, or otherwise ill-equipped to take the ministry to the next level. It’s just that until the culture of ownership has the same mental model of ministry, we live in different worlds with respect to how we SEE the dynamics of ministry playing out.

An integral lens (holistic) or way of seeing enables the engagement of the complexities of ministry without reducing the whole of ministry to an aggregate of any of its parts. For instance, take an accounting system. When the accounting system needs to evolve in complexity to align with the needs of a more complex ministry dynamic, transitioning to a new way of doing things isn’t as simple as just bolting on a new enhancement. Systems require upgrades. New ways of doing things may necessitate roles with greater competence and accountability. The point is that we need to keep in mind the entire living system that ministry is, in order to smoothly transition into a new or different ministry practice. It is helpful to be able to SEE how the invisible aspects of ministry (culture, identity, conflict norms, values, etc) come into play when effort to evolve the ministry is introduced.

Therefore, integral principles aid in formulating developmental and implementation strategies. Here are some of the basic integral principles that I wish to teach my entire congregation:

  • All Quadrants: There are four domains of ministry development. Consciousness (leadership intentionality), Culture (congregational identity), Social System (relational dynamics), and Organization (structures, practices, and organizational systems).
  • All Levels: Within the all quadrant matrix there are levels (basic or default, next level, and advanced levels). Each level or stage within each quadrant represents a level of development or maturity. Evolution moves from simple to complex, from adolescence to adulthood, etc. Thus, the intentionality of leaders moves from basic leadership imperatives (predict and control) to the more advanced level of Spirit-led leadership intentionality.
  • All lines: In addition to levels or stages of development, there are specific lines of development within each quadrant. My application of the integral model denotes one specific line of development (that which evolves) in each quadrant. The developmental lines of the Integral Ministry Model are: Leadership Intentionality, Congregational Identity, Relational Dynamics, and Organizational Behavior. Once again, each of these lines move from simple to complex, more mature or more developed within each quadrant.
  • Internal (Being) and External (Doing): The four quadrant arrangement denotes left hand quadrants (Consciousness and Culture) and right hand Quadrants (Organization and Social System). Dynamics of the left hand quadrants are internal and invisible, but constitute the Being aspect of the living system; and the right hand dynamics are external and visible (measurable) and constitute the Doing of the living system. The ideal is Authentic Being and Conscious Doing rather than conditioned being and unconscious doing. Whenever you have the latter, you leak energy as an organization.
  • Agency (Leadership) and Community (the collective): The top two quadrants pertain to the agency of the organization in general and the leadership specifically. The lower two quadrants pertain to the community at large. While the entire congregation inhabits the lower two quadrants (culture and social systems), only a small portion of the community interacts with the whole of ministry (all quadrants).
  • As within, so without: The internal gives rise to the external. Being expresses as doing. An outer dysfunction has an inner correlate Integral Principleswithin consciousness and culture. This is why it is so important to not look for external fixes, but rather to focus on evolving the interior dimensions of the ministry (leadership intentionality and congregational identity).
  • As above, so below: The community (lower quadrants) cannot out-perform what the agency (leadership and organization) doesn’t model or embody. This is why it is important for the Board to know that its primary role (integrally speaking) is to demonstrate what it looks like to be the ideal governing member (in terms of financial support, meaningful involvement, spiritual practice, emotional and spiritual maturity). If the congregation can’t SEE the Board be IT and do IT (the ideal member), don’t expect those attributes to show up in the community (except by accident).
  • Transcend and Include: Getting to the next level implies moving beyond our yesterday selves. It also means transcending the limitations and deficits of where we are and embracing new ways of being and doing that are aligned with a more evolved context for ministry. And yet, even in evolution, Nature doesn’t throw away that which is of true value and benefit. Getting to the next level in ministry doesn’t require abandoning anything that is of true value and benefit. We seek to include time-honored traditions providing that they sustain resilience, creativity, inspiration, innovation, and a second tier perspective.

I have a leadership development training coming up this weekend for my ministry leaders. The training will present three modules: The Integral Ministry Model (intro to integral principles), the Ownership Project (managing the receivership / ownership polarity), and the Integral Membership System (a graduated approach to governing membership). This day and a half program will begin to close the gap between integral theory and practice. I sent out personal invitations for the training to a list of key leaders that I felt were essential to moving the ministry forward. Turns out that other people heard about the training. Oops 🙂 Started out with 20 confirmed attendees. Now enrollment is up over 60. Sending out personal invites and then letting info leak is sneaky, I know. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Blessings, Gary