Radical Transparency

Clive Thompson writes a fantastic article in this month’s edition of Wired titled "The See-Through CEO."  The basic premise is this:  the blogosphere has fundamentally changed the rules of information flow to the point that the only way to manage your company’s reputation is to stop managing it and get real.  And don’t stop there.  Get a blog and get real in front of everybody.  Tell your secrets, share your struggles.  Become obviously human, and people will begin to trust you.

In the reputation economy, transparent authenticity is now king.  Not smooth presentations, not controlled information flow, but open, honest story-telling.  It’s a lesson the church really needs to learn.

I’ve been on various church staffs for 9 years now, and it shames me to think of how much staff meeting time I’ve spent with my colleagues trying to manage the church’s image in the eyes of the membership.  Behind on budget?  Talk about how great our children’s ministry is.  Unable and unwilling to reach and serve our community?  Whip up a missions trip to Vietnam.  Not enough volunteers to run too many programs?  Create a new discipleship program/bible study/spiritual gifts inventory class/whatever.  Mission confusion?  Schedule a "revival."  Bored and boring believers?  Build a new building.

In other words, use buzz to distract attention away from where we’re not getting it done.  "If only we could get people excited about this, then they’d stop griping about that…"

How refreshing would it be to hear a church staff tell the truth? 

"Our denominational affiliation is causing us more problems in the community than it is creating good will with the people we’re trying to reach."

"We can’t support the ministry program with the money we’re taking in."

"Our first-time visitors don’t come back for a second look."

"What you’ve been taught about the bible in the past is not necessarily true."

"There is a vocal minority of disgruntled members who are making bold decision-making impossible around here."

For most, it would be a breath of fresh air and a welcome change.  For some, it would be downright frightening.  But you can’t solve problems if you’re unwilling to admit you have them, much less get your problem-solvers to trust you.

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1 Response to “Radical Transparency”


  1. 1 Greg Laughery March 30, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Dropping in from Out of Ur. Thanks for this. Let’s have some fresh air!


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