What Can the Church Learn from Super Chickens?

It is important to remember that we, as the Church, are like a vine and not like a flower pot. Charles Simpson wrote a powerful book about this reality: Ants, Vines, and Churches. We are called to be a vine but we choose to live like a flower pot, putting the walls of pews around us. Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. It’s so important to rediscover who we are called to be and how we are called to relate and communicate with one another. It seems as if corporations are leaving the “Organizational” format and moving towards the “Relational” format, while the Church is leaving the “Relational” format and moving into the “Organizational” format. Considering this very paradigm, Margaret Heffernan discusses a revealing discovery in the simple observation in a recent Ted Talk of chickens and how we can learn from them when applying these observations to our relationships.

Heffernan begins with a scientific approach as she highlights how an evolutionary biologist at Purdue University was researching productivity. His direction to find his desired results? Studying chickens. As Heffernan puts it, “it’s easy to measure in chickens because you just count the eggs”. In this study, the biologist had two groups: one group of average chickens that he left alone for six generations, and the other comprised of the most “productive” chickens. “You could call them super chickens and he put them together in a super flock in each generation he selected only the most productive for breeding”. After six generations, he looked at both of these flocks and the results were staggering. 

The first group of average chickens were progressing along just fine and growing quite healthily. The group of Super Chickens? Not so much. “They had pecked the rest to death. The individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest.” Surprising? Some would say no as they can see a comparison to many realities in their own life. As Heffernan has shared this study in many of her speeches and talks, she has been surprised at the comments that she has been told by her audience. “That’s my company. That’s my country. Well that’s my life all my life I’ve been told that the way we have to get ahead is to compete.” As Heffernan has started and ran her own successful company contrary to the “Super Chickens” mindset, she is fascinated as to why we teach this mindset in our society. Continue Reading…

Courtesy of Nantpipat Vutthisak/shutterstock.com

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