The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


Are we guilty of "Social Loafing"?

A new term to me, but probably not to anyone else who took psycology or something like that, I wonder if our group ever suffers from social loafing. Basically, it says that when we are in a group our productivity reduces greatly beacuse we can (and do) fade into the crowd. I think our Peter Rollins event has pulled us out of this, if we were in it, because we gave members individual tasks that they were responsible for. So far our management of this event has been awesome and, as long as the weather allows, it should be a wonderful event that will be a testament to what a small dedicated group of people can do. Let's hope we can keep this motivation going into the spring!


Greg said...

I had not heard of this phenomenon, Nick. Where did you run across it?

A small point: in the case of the Rollins event, would it not be more correct to say that people stepped into their roles as opposed to being given individual tasks? The difference between those two realities is huge, because the former encourages (as was the case) freedom of choice and healthy motivation, while the latter suggests imposition and unhealthy motivation, the likes of which structure-gone-wrong has a tendency to become.

One of the most beautiful ideas I took away from How (Not) to Speak of God is that when specific duties/tasks are not assigned, they have no other choice than to naturally rise up among the ekklesia; if they do not, then it probably wasn't the ekklesia in the first place.

As to whether our group had/has a tendency to loaf socially as it were, I would argue no. When we worry about our attendance/adminstration/etc., we stop focusing on the central event that brings us all together.

Nick Johnson said...

Greg - it came up in a staff meeting at work today, actually, so I looked it up online. I would agree your assessment and correction on how events happened for the Rollins event, and I also agree that it is a big distinction. I do, however, think that at times our group suffers from a general feeling of 'if I don't do it, someone else will.' This would explain sporadic blogging and sometimes having trouble deciding who will lead sessions. Now, do I think we are terrible about this, no. In fact, we are much, much better than any sort of not-for-pay group I've been in outside of my fraternity at college (maybe we need hazing...). But, I do think that we, like any group of humans, can suffer from group complacency.

Jesse said...

Great question Nick - there's lots to think about in regards to the church "at large" but also our cohort specifically. On the one hand, I agree that there can be a bit of laziness, and perhaps people think "well, someone else will do it." But I can only speak for myself, and I'm pretty sure I don't ever consciously think that. In fact, it's more along the lines of what Greg mentioned - I try not to worry about attendance, if or when an event will happen, who is going to lead, etc.

Take last week's discussion for example: There was very little planning. Only the location and time, and general topic. I tried to plan a few discussion starters (Rollins videos), but we ended up not even needing them at all. That was really cool to me.

I guess I have been in groups before that try to get "something started" and the concern is more with the status, the organization, the planning, etc., but the real core and heart of why we are getting together didn't really exist. A group I was involved with in college used to meet every Monday night for 2-3 hours for planning meetings. It was exhausting, and sometimes I dreaded those meetings, even though I loved everyone in the group.

I think it's beautiful that we can have such a low amount of organization and leadership, and yet allow things to happen naturally. And like Greg pointed out - if it happens organically, it's of God and of the church - if it doesn't, maybe it was never of God in the first place.

All that being said, I'll flip to the other side, and agree with you Nick that it can be easy to be complacent when you have other people to pick up the slack. Could there also be a sort of reverse peer pressure effect in our group? People may be hesitant to blog because they aren't sure what they have to say is interesting enough or relevant. Or they don't want to lead a session because they may not feel qualified? I'm just guessing...perhaps others have insights.

NancyJ said...

I’ll choose to take both sides as well.

I’m not sure I completely agree with “if they do not [naturally rise up], then it probably wasn't the ekklesia in the first place.” (even though not specifically assigning tasks allowing those to step up has great value).

I was quick to volunteer to do what was easy for me in the Rollins’ event, but I felt guilty for choosing something so small and later checked with Zach to see if I could help he and Eve out in any way. So there you have some less than great volunteering on my part.

I think healthy motivation is a combination of doing what comes easily and naturally and a willingness to stretch out of my comfort zone. (Sometimes I need to go ahead and do something I don’t think I can do well.)

My belief is that we are all leaders and followers at different times. I happen to think I’m a great follower, but I’m willing to lead sometimes too.

I know it makes sense to shy away from asking someone something they aren’t comfortable with. But from my experience with you all, it is incredible to be asked—-take a risk that I will ‘less than’--and still be loved for all that I am.

In short, I think there is benefit to the combination of structure and freedom—both asking and allowing volunteers to come forward.

Gregory said...

Nick, I concede that we are capable of engaging in group complacency--I just would not refer to it as suffering. Perhaps it has benefits. :)

I suppose I am reacting from my own past which is rooted in a very works-oriented, top-down church background. That is why the idea of structure arising organically is so appealing, because it allows a less me-centered approach.

Jesse, I had not thought of how this concept could also be said to apply to the church at large as well. I guess that's a whole other discussion in itself... I am also intrigued by your suggestion that reverse peer pressure is occurring in our group. How do we avoid this?

Nancy, I appreciate your definition of "healthy motivation" in this case as a combination of a.) doing what comes naturally; and b.) what may come from a desire to reach out of one's comfort zone. My reason for not bringing desire into the equation was because I assumed it was part of the equation in the first place. This assumption could not be made in my case when I was part of a more hierarchical church system. Even if deep down I may have been motivated out of a desire to serve God or others, that emphasis was quickly recast on living up to the expectations of church leaders, so that my desire became mired in a bunch of other junk. Structure and freedom certainly have their place, but who will be the ones in our group that "ask for service." And how long before we start consequently calling them our leaders?

Then again, perhaps I'm conflating two different concepts of leadership. When we started meeting regularly in January 2008, we agreed on involving large structure, but keeping small structure more open. By large structure, I think we were referring to the general format for our weekly rotation of meeting types. By small structure, I think we were referring to the actual design of those meetings, which would include the leaders of those activities. All that said, I do agree, Nancy, that structure and freedom are both part of the solution.