Grow Your Organization Through Vulnerability

Years ago, I was part of a community of faith in Ventura, California known as The Bridge. It was a very special part of my history in my personal faith, but also in how I saw organizations in their design, structure and following.

Every organization, to get this title, will have followers. For a business, these followers might be customers or clients. For a non-profit, these might be supporters, donors or sponsors. And for a community of faith, these might be members, congregants, or more openly, family.

The life of the Bridge went from 1999 to the end of 2007, and in those years, we really pushed and fought to be an community where each person called us home could be their true, authentic selves. So what did this look from within our structure?

It meant that every Sunday, we sat in the round. Rather than a linear Sunday experience in straight rows of chairs, we brought in small round tables that could seat 4-6 people (sometimes more) and we would engage in the Soul Journey. The Soul Journey was a set of three questions , posed on cards given to everyone seated at the table: (1) PERSONAL: a prayer for the ourselves, (2) LOCAL: a prayer for something or someone around us like a friend’s situation, and (3) GLOBAL: a prayer for something happening world. We then would share these prayers with everyone at the table.

It is important to note: We would also encourage people to sit with strangers or newcomers, and break away from the monotony of their friends, sometimes stopping our whole service and making people get up and move around. These times around the table every week meant we had to take the risk of being authentic and vulnerable. We had to face our fears, telling friends and strangers how we were really doing, what our needs were and what prayers we needed most. It was after sharing our three items that we appointed someone to pray for the whole table, and then as the last act of vulnerability, we swapped our Soul Journey card with someone seated next to us with our contact info written on it to remain in contact during the week.

The thing is: the Bridge became known by these moments. Word spread not only locally, but around the nation and the globe of the things are community was doing. It was risking and daring to break up the “Sunday Church Experience”, but people grew to love it. It meant real people, addressing real needs. And the thing was that our community’s leaders took seats at tables around the room. The leaders of the community were not exempt from revealing the personal needs and longings found on the Soul Journey card.

If you’re a leader of any type of organization, your followers may not know it yet, but they would love for you to sit down with them, amongst them. Sure, there are tasks and duties and projects to be done. But if you just took a moment to sit amongst those who follow you, you would find that these moments are what change us, shape us, and form us.

RISKY BUSINESS

The risk is that you must lay down your pride and ego. The risk is that you must open up. The risk is you must not only face some fears, but try sharing those fears with others too. This is the risk. But just like the leadership of the Bridge would force the community to swap seats with strangers, sometimes, we leaders must be provoked to take the risk, and it’s in these moments that memories are made that last a lifetime.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE

Try it out. Take the risk of being authentic with your followers. Open up with your organization.  How has being vulnerable grown your company, organization or community?  And then tell the world about it in the comments below…

Lover of Love, husband, entrepreneur, designer, consultant, writer, musician, and seeker of justice. Read more.

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