How Failure Can Be a Vital Strategic Resource for Your Church

Failure’s just another word for something else to learn.

Failure is the gift that keeps on giving – if you’re realistic, humble, and honest enough to address it. You can convert failure from an unfortunate regret into a vital strategic resource.

The two quotes above give you an accurate picture of what authors John Danner and Mark Coopersmith have to say about failure. Their recent book “The Other F Word” speaks to their belief that failure can have a big payoff in any organization.

Everybody talks about failure, but nobody tells you what to do about it—as a leader, executive or team member. Danner and Coopersmith have taken a different approach. Not the “hoorah” of inspiring personal memoirs of famous people retelling how they persevered through difficulty to eventually achieve fabulous success. Not the “rah rah” of Silicon Valley cheerleading that urges us to “fail often, fail fast” as the path to  entrepreneurial riches. And definitely not the “blah blah” of self-help, whose personal revelations may be hard to translate and apply in complex organizational settings.

You can download a manifesto of their ideas here, including:

  • Five Core Insights of Failure
  • The Failure Value Cycle – 7 Stages Where Failure Can Deliver Value
  • Five Powers You Can Unlock with a More Failure-Positive Approach

Is putting failure to work easy? No. Is it possible? Absolutely—if you’re willing to respect its inherent potential to show you what you need to know, recognize its signs early enough to minimize its negative impacts, reflect candidly more on why it happened than who was involved, and—above all—remember the resilience your organization displayed in putting failure to work.

Download helpful ideas in using failure as a strategic resource here.


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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for this information. I'm going to use this article to improve my work with the Lord.
— Abel Singbeh
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu

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