Journeying With Jesus

The Adventure of Faith

Problems or Polarities?



        Problem Solving vs. Managing Polarities

Organizations, be they highly structured or organically based, all have to resolve tensions arising from conflicts or differing perspectives. A key leadership skill is to discern whether the required intervention is to solve a problem or to manage a polarity. I want to explore in this blog the differences.

We are very familiar with problems to solve. Generally, we analyze the problem, search for and evaluate solutions and implement the best choice. Problem solving usually has an either/or dimension and then closure ensues. At that point you move on.

One example in the early church was when the Greek-speaking Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Another case was when a Corinthian man was found sleeping with his father’s wife. In both cases these were seen as problems to solve and the church leadership came up with specific solutions. Once the solutions were implemented the problems were solved.

Managing polarities presents different levels of complexity and skill. The polarities have core values associated with them. Polarities don’t respond to right or wrong thinking. If a polarity is treated like a “problem” then you end up with a win/lose scenario. Usually interventions fall into the both/and camp. It often means we are looking at ways to balance polarities not to eliminate them. Polarities never disappear; they are ongoing. That is why leadership must learn to “manage” polarities because they are ongoing.

Some examples of polarities we face in the Gathering include:

Corporate needs                                       vs.     Individual needs
Outward focus                                         vs.     Inward focus
Contemplative worship style                       vs.     Demonstrative worship style
Priesthood of all believers                           vs.     Five-fold Leadership
Letting experienced believers minister          vs.     Giving opportunity for gifting in others to develop

Both sides of the ledger reflect important values held by the Gathering. We will never sacrifice one for the benefit of the other. But we will find an ebb and flow in how these polarities are balanced. During certain seasons we might emphasize one polarity over another. At times we might get out of balance and have to swing back. We might find our House Churches emphasize one polarity more while our Celebration Gatherings emphasize another.

When we see how Paul handled polarizing issues in the church, he warned against division, as well as attitudes of contempt and judgment. Those can be side effects if polarities generate hostility and hurt. He also emphasized love, unity, sacrifice, and edification of the body. As a leadership we hope to find appropriate balance in our polarities as the Lord leads.

What do you think?


February 20, 2013 Posted by | House Church, Lessons learned | , , | 1 Comment