The anti-fragile church
‘Anti-fragile’ is a book by Nassim Taleb about creating systems that benefit from disorder.
“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better”
Taleb has three categories of systems:
- Fragile systems cannot cope with disorder and often collapse
- Robust systems can withstand change
- Anti-fragile systems benefit from disorder.
One example of an anti-fragile system is aviation safety. Whenever an incident occurs, extensive investigations take place. Designs are modified, procedures are changed. These changes are communicated worldwide – sometimes within just days. That means the same problem rarely occurs twice, and so the whole system is continually improving.
Why does a church need to be anti-fragile?
Because it’s exposed to all sorts of volatility, randomness and disorder.
- Transitions in leadership
- Changes in the environment and culture
- Unexpected death or departure of key members
How can a church be anti-fragile?
- Expect people to be human. Often our assumption is that people will serve perfectly and indefinitely, but the reality is that they won’t.
- Have a strong sense of direction. When something changes – e.g. a key person steps down – you’re not just replacing them, but you’re ready to make improvements and strengthen that area.
- Keep the kingdom central. It’s not about frantically finding someone to keep a program running. It’s about seeking the kingdom first – and there are many ways to do that.