Paul McCartney was once asked when he knew the writing was on the wall for the Beatles, as a band. He pointed to the summer of 1965 and specifically their sold-out performance at Shea Stadium. Because the screaming of the crowd was was so loud, and there wasn’t such a thing as in-ear monitors to block out noise back then; they could not hear themselves play their set. Paul said that he knew in his gut that it was the beginning of the end when they could no longer hear the music but they kept performing anyway.
I think that is a haunting lesson for anyone who is passionately pursuing any dream. Failure, as trying as it can be, is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Success can actually be worse. This is true in ministry and in business. You can get so big and so successful that as an organization you are no longer lit by the same fire you once had. You have to fight to retain the original passion you had when you were starting out.
There are two things that we have been intentional about doing at fresh life, as we have grown, to keep us on mission and fight the forces of entropy. One is being careful to remember our history. This is vital. New hires and those who join later on need to understand what they are a part of or they will take the sacrifices paid early on for granted. The second is to make sure that the core values that lead to the success in the first place are instilled afresh, again and again, so that they are not forsaken.
A while back a friend of mine, Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, gave me a book that really opened my eyes to seeing the need for these things to be specifically nailed down and not allowed to remain nebulous. The book is called The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause (you can buy it here). That and the book Onward by Howard Schultz (link) are two phenomenal resources for any leader looking to create clarity in their organizational culture.
One things for sure, it’s a war you must wage if you want to continue to hear the music. It doesn’t happen on accident.
Check out this video where I explain what’s unique about the culture at fresh life to our church.