(First published on March 11, 2012)
What is Organization Development?
Organization development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organization’s “processes,” using behavioral science knowledge (Richard Beckhard, 1969).
Organization development is a process that applies behavioral science knowledge and practices to help organizations build the capacity to change and to achieve greater effectiveness, including increased financial performance and improved quality of work life.
Organizational development differs from other planned change efforts, such as technological innovation or new product development, because the focus is on building the organization’s ability to assess its current functioning and to achieve its goals. Moreover OD is oriented to improving the total system – organization and its parts in the context of the larger environment that affects them. (Cummings and Worley)
Organization development is a planned process of change in an organization’s culture through the utilization of behavioral science technology, research and theory (Warner Burke) Organization development refers to a long-range effort to improve an organization’s problem solving capabilities and its ability to cope with changes in its external environment with the help of external or internal behavioral-scientist consultants, or change agents, as they are sometimes called. (Wendell French)
Organization development is a system wide process of data collection, diagnosis, action planning, intervention, and evaluation aimed at (1) enhancing congruence among organizational structure, process, strategy, people, and culture; (2) developing new and creative organizational solutions; and (3) developing the organization’s self-renewing capacity. It occurs through the collaboration of organizational members working with a change agent using behavioral science theory, research, and technology. (Michael Beer)
What is Congregational Development?
Congregational Development is the development of congregations of all sizes and locations into more faithful, healthy and effective communities of faith that are:
- Focused on and faithful to their unique reason for being/primary task as congregations which are full expressions of the Body of Christ
- Connected to and expressive of their unique ecclesial tradition, ethos and character
- Self-renewing and responsive to the challenges and opportunities before them
- Sustainable or working toward greater sustainability in terms of a fit between the elements of their organizational life: vision for ministry, leadership, culture, size, property, finances, etc.
What is “the Church Growth Movement”?
Church Growth is a movement which began within Evangelical Christianity emphasizing missionary work combined with sociological awareness of the target population. The seeker sensitive label for this approach characterizes the would-be converts as “seekers”. Church Growth began with the publication of Donald McGavran’s book “The Bridges of God.” McGavran was a third generation Christian missionary to India, where his observations of “How Churches Grow” (the title of another of his books) went beyond typical theological discussion to discern sociological factors that affected receptivity to the Christian Gospel among non-Christian peoples. In 1965, he organized the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, which was the institutional home base for Church Growth studies until after his death, and has been the training ground for tens of thousands of pastors and missionaries of one hundred mainly Evangelical denominations. Two key attributes of Church Growth are a passion for the Great Commission and a willingness to apply research, including quantitative methods. Scholars and leaders from many denominations continue to
meet annually to discuss the implications of these insights as the American Society for Church Growth.
The “seeker sensitive” label is associated with some megachurches in the United States where Christian messages are often imparted by means of elaborate spectacles with elements drawn from secular popular culture, such as rock music, which may appeal to teenagers and other groups less drawn to traditional “stuffy” forms of worship.
Critics from other Christian groups suggest the movement is “only about numbers”, “slick” and “success” oriented. Apologists respond that most advocates have a real concern for the salvation of the individuals represented by the numbers. Some Church Growth groups distance themselves from the “showbiz” approach of megachurches and believe these may be counterproductive. Willow Creek Community Church recently conducted a major survey that shows heavy involvement in “seeker sensitive” programs and activities contributed to church growth, but did not translate into spiritual growth and maturity.
What is “Congregational Studies”?
The scholarly study of the dynamics of congregational life developed into a separate academic discipline of study called Congregational Studies. This discipline has as its focus of study the life of local religious groups or congregations. Persons who conduct this research come from different academic perspectives (sociology, history, theology, psychology) and use different tools (surveys, observation, interviews, demographics) but they all have in common the desire to better understand the life and
dynamics of the lived reality of faith communities.
The foundational text guiding this discipline was the 1986 book The Handbook for Congregational Studies edited by Jack Carroll, Carl Dudley and Bill McKenna. A sequel to the original handbook was recently published. This work, Studying Congregations: A New Handbook forms the basis of much of the congregational studies work of the Hartford Institute.