The IT Industry and Agile Church

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Church leaders can learn a great deal from what is happening in the profession of Information Technology (IT). Over the last decade, IT organizations have transformed the way programmers design and build computer systems. Inspired by lean manufacturing initiatives such as the Toyota Production System, software engineers have developed methods to maximize production and minimize waste. This new, more efficient way of producing computer systems is called “Agile,” a term first coined in 2001 by a group of engineers gathered to discuss better methods of developing software. The outcome of their meeting is known as the Agile Manifesto. It states:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”  

Agile and lean thinking are beginning to spread outside of just manufacturing and IT systems development. As a church leader, how can you harness the concepts of Agile to improve the church’s outreach? Are you meeting people’s needs? Are you able to respond to a changing culture? Agile speaks to all these issues and provides a framework to bring people closer to each other and closer to God. An Agile church manifesto might read as follows:

  • Building lasting relationships over developing processes and procedures (Matthew 22:36-40)
  • Taking action over constructing grand plans (James 2:14-16)
  • Collaborating with the congregation over following institutional church division (John 6: 1-13)
  • Responding to the changing needs of the community over upholding tradition (Mark 2:17)

How can you take these principles and apply them to your own mission? Becoming more agile as a congregation may increase your productivity and make your church more effective for the kingdom of God.

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