I want to say something about collaborative space, and then leave you with a quote from Leonard Sweet.

First, I think our workspace is a very important piece. It says something about what we believe in regards to leadership, collaboration, theology, etc. For example corner offices where upper leadership reside often give the image of non-collaboration, or hierarchical decision making. That then says something about views of leadership. Top-down, not a bottoms up, or leading within style.

Second, when I look around at many different workspaces, I’m struck by the fact that many churches still promote a non-collaborative environment where hierarchies are distinguished by the sizes, privacy and luxuries of the office. Not all churches promote this environment though, as I see more and more churches creating office spaces without doors or walls, and some where every office is the same size, or everyone is in a cubicle style workspace.

Third, workspaces in what we would call secular environments seem to have caught onto this idea of collaborative space more quickly than the Church. I remember my experience in a community mental health clinic where all the interns shared office space with all the directors, and no one was allowed to address the Ph.D. with the title Dr. You see, their views of leadership flowed over into their workspace.

If there is any organization that should promote servant leadership, and that should reflect those views in their architecture and workspace, I would think it should be the Church.

Why aren’t we, the Church, leading the way?

And if we are, give me some examples?

What are some churches you know of that do a good job of fostering a collaborative, non-hierarchical workspace?

Collaborative Space: Leaders need spiritual design as much as “smart design” in their use of space. A “sick building syndrome” can afflict the soul and mind as well as the body. Healthy space is team space, shared space, not a hierarchy of space with royalty inhabiting offices fit for the gods while everyone else lives in convict cubicles. Already in the business world the walls are coming down in the office space. More and more senior managers now sit in open offices with no doors. The dimly lit cubicle with one’s own private space is become more rare. Pittsburgh’s Alcoa has banished all private offices, even for its CEO. The future is “teaming rooms,” “common areas,” “playrooms.” People need their own personal spaces, their cliff dwellings, but personal space is basically electronic space (laptops and portable phones) conjoined with team space–hangouts like water coolers, living rooms, and snack bars dominated by casual learning, casual dress, and casual connectedness.
Leonard Sweet
Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture
pp. 200