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May 22, 2020

Avoiding Founders Syndrome

George Mekhail. Cofounder.

Avoiding Founders Syndrome

A Farewell Note to Church Clarity by George Mekhail

Today I’m stepping down as Executive Director of Church Clarity, an organization I co-founded and have helped lead since Oct. 2017. Like most founders who had an idea that became a reality, I’ve tended to see Church Clarity as “my baby.” This is, of course, a problem that often precedes full blown Founders Syndrome, a condition loosely defined as: the difficulty faced by organizations where founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the project, leading to a wide range of problems for the organization.

Despite this reality, I continue to believe that #ClarityIsReasonable. I’m proud of the powerful resource I’ve helped create and I intend to champion this work into the future. But it’s time to stop being a helicopter parent to my not-baby, and release control of this important public resource to those who have the skills, focus and vision to carry it forward. As difficult as it is to say out loud (especially as an Enneagram 3), the scope of Church Clarity has outgrown my individual abilities. At the leadership level, this work moving forward requires a greater emphasis on technical execution, strong administrative capabilities and intentional grassroots organizing among active church leaders and participants. I can’t help but feel under-qualified to lead at a level such a consequential position deserves.

In bringing the issue of institutional ambiguity to light, Church Clarity is actively challenging mainstream Christian consciousness as a whole. History will look kindly on what we’ve already accomplished, regardless of what happens next. I believe that we are a significant participant in the ongoing Reformation of the church. In many circles, Church Clarity has become a household name. By carrying out the “un-sexy” work of disclosing policies that churches enforce, we’ve empowered thousands of people to abandon congregations where pastors insist on ambiguity and dishonesty. We’ve equipped people with the right questions to ask. And critically, we’ve helped thousands more find Verified Clear churches who unapologetically align with their values. We’ve done so through a unique methodology that is genuinely unconcerned with theological proclamations, but rather, solely interested in the practical outworking of a church’s theological claims. In summary, we’ve changed the conversation by exposing the impact of asymmetrical information and we’ll continue to be a force throughout Christianity, every time a church’s “About” page is edited on their website, every time a dubious claim is made by a pastor and every time someone is looking for a new church to attend.

I’m grateful to my co-founders Sarah Ngu and Tim Schraeder who believed in this vision from the start and helped make it what it is today. Seth Lunsford for creating the thoughtful art behind the brand. Daniel Chou for rebuilding our entire website within a few days of our launch after we outgrew our original SquareSpace blog. Steph, Justin, Shannon, Ross, Anna, Jess, Jessica, Spencer, Phil and Adrian for taking on enormous leadership responsibilities and cultivating a rich and innovative infrastructure behind the scenes as well as a healthy and rewarding volunteer culture. Every volunteer who has ever scored a church. Every Verified Clear Church leader who has completed a policy survey. Everyone who has ever contributed financially. Anyone who has submitted a church to the database. Everyone who shared their story or recommended our website. Most of all, my wife Danielle who supported and encouraged this passion project at our family’s personal financial expense and investment of my mental, emotional and creative energy.

Transitions are never easy. I have a lot to say about the nature of this work, and everything I’ve experienced while leading this effort. Maybe I’ll write a book one day about the struggles and the successes, the cowardice and the courage and the hypocrisy and the humility I’ve witnessed firsthand. But for now, I will simply say that I’m excited about the future of Church Clarity as our current leadership team takes the reins. This group of leaders is beyond capable of leveling things up without me in the way rambling on about god knows what, non-stop tinkering with our roadmap and unpredictable rants on social media. The team that largely runs Church Clarity already possesses the skills to not only sustain the work, but to help it continue to thrive beyond the limitations of its original founders. I’m also excited to channel any influence I have from the “outside” without having a dog in the fight, so to speak.

As far as what’s next for me, I’m shifting my focus to championing economic justice and working to hasten the impending global revolution. Throughout my career, I’ve had a front row seat to the inequitable realities of the global financial system. From my days in the Mortgage industry during the Great Recession, to various Executive Ministry roles concerned with church growth and the “business” of Christianity. Indeed, witnessing how misaligned financial incentives corrupt even the most sincere people, originally inspired Church Clarity. My calling has always involved practical solutions to underlying economic issues. Shortly after launching Church Clarity, I’ve increasingly embraced the radical innovation of Bitcoin as a multi-faceted solution to many of humanity’s biggest problems. As the chaos of the world accelerates, and the downstream impact hits closer to home, my conviction to evangelize the implications of this new form of Money has grown deeper. I won’t get on that soap box here, but I will shamelessly use this opportunity to ask that you keep an open mind, just as you did when first exploring the mission of Church Clarity.

I’ve learned so much over the years and the lens of Clarity continues to shape my worldview as new paradigms and social dynamics emerge. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@gmekhail) if you’re interested in what’s next!

Either way, I hope you’ll join me in continuing to champion transparency and accountability throughout the church world with the simple message that Clarity is Reasonable.

Much love, peace and respect,