Trust vs. Structure

You need trust–like personal trust in competent people to do good work and not foul things up.

You also need structures like rules and procedures to short-circuit the human tendency toward stupidity and short-sightedness.

Trust without structures causes problems. Structures without trust does too.

Tapestry is trying to preserve the trust the leaders have in one another as the basis for our work together, even as we kick around things we need to start doing to ensure quality. Some of us default to trusting one another and don’t need an outline of your retreat talk beforehand. Others default to creating structures and want all talks shared 30 days out. Here we are.

The PC(USA) has been roiled by the discovery that some denominational personnel used church grant money to start their own independent nonprofit. The personnel in question were aiming for “flexibility,” and it’s clear that they trusted each other and had the trust of others in the denomination. But they sidestepped important structures, and now they’re on administrative leave and the value of a terrific movement is now in question. Here we are.

Don’t tell me we need a “balance” of trust and structures. That’s too easy. Isn’t it more the case that we need to discern when one is more urgently needed than the other, and whether or not the urgent need for trust permits looser structures or the urgent need for structure puts trust in the backseat?

Can you have both all the time?



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