I was chatting online recently with a friend who remains active at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Church. As the conversation unfolded, he complained about the upcoming Spring Fling Golf Outing, although it seems that he plans to attend. The conversation produced a moment of epiphany though, which is that folks at Grace appear to becoming increasingly tired of the lack of change at the church. This does not bode well for the parish.
It’s interesting, too — things have gotten so skewed at Grace that they view the HVAC product as change. Actually, it’s not—it’s simply restoring what’s there. But so little effort goes into maintaining the building on a normal basis that this seems like a big deal. In fact, the original systems were installed so badly that it was only a few years ago that things got done that should have been part of the 1994 building renovations, like insulating third-floor ductwork.
The problem, it seems, is that Dysfunctional Bob doesn’t like change. Indeed, he’s fallen into a very comfortable cycle, with his month at the beach every summer, followed by Shrine Mont, the program year, then Thanksgiving (another week off), Christmas (more time off), then Easter and the end of the program year.
The challenge, of course, is that what worked in the 1980’s is starting to feel tired, dated and rote. Been to one Shrine Mont, been to 30 of them. And the pace of change in society is accelerating, with more focus on social media, the rapid flow of data, and more. Yet St. Dysfunction’s sole concessions to the times are a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, with the latter lamely announcing when new sermons go live.
At a higher level, the parish is challenged by the fact that it has no strategic plan. Everything just revolves around keeping existing programs running and staying (barely) afloat financially. That’s a shame — the high level of compensation Bob Malm enjoys should warrant some meaningful leadership on Bob’s part, especially in light of Bob’s appointment of the executive committee. In short, if Dysfunctional Bob is going to control governance within the parish, it would help if he would not be so, well, dysfunctional.
My bet is that we are going to see Grace church really start to crumble within the next 10 years, as the years of Bob’s indifference and sometimes outright hostility to strategic planning and effective governance increasingly take their toll.