Sunday, December 9, 2007

Organism vs. Organization

I’ve been mulling over the terms Scripture uses to describe the church. We know that the church is referred to as the way, bride, family and body, just to name a few. The interesting thing that we notice from all of the metaphors used to describe the church tells us that the church is supposed to be relational. Another way of describe this is to refer to the church as organismal and not organizational.

To be honest, this is something that many churches either miss or ignore, especially as a church grows in age and/or size.

Organization (def.) - an administrative and functional structure

When a church gentrifies it often solidifies into an organization, the same thing happens when a church grows exponentially. Now don’t get me wrong, organization is important for any church. Without it we would have chaos! Even the early church experienced the need of organization when it became necessary to create deacons to help meet the growing needs of the widows and less fortunate (Acts 6:1-6). But the elders continued to be focused on their calling, prayer and ministry of the Word.

Organism (def.) - a complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole

But the church is designed to be an organism. We are called to reproduce and we are dependant on each other for our vitality and for the fulfillment of our reason to exist on this earth, the advancement of the Kingdom (until Christ’s return).

Often when a church grows, a major problem is that the staff is either understaffed and quickly forsakes organism for organization to accomplish many of their tasks, or even worse they become professional organizers.

When people are overwhelmed with their work or ministry, they either ignore the very people who can help them or they create a bureaucracy to alleviate their workload hoping to discourage people from volunteering. Then church staff complains about their lack of volunteers needed to accomplish their ministries.

I am reminded of an experience that my wife had with a former worship pastor at a mega-church before they were called mega. She went in to speak with him and offered her services (she is an incredible keyboard player) She told him that that she wanted to serve in some capacity at the church, anything would be great, including playing for a SS class, just some place where she could serve. The worship pastor leaned back in his chair and said, “You mean you want me to create something for you to do?” DUH! Ah, yeah!!! That’s what a servant leader does. Train people to do the work of the ministry and then give ministry away!

If you don’t believe it, check out Eph 4:11-12.

In fact, think about this in 1 Corinthians we are told that the church is a body and that every part is important. The body is not complete and cannot function as God created it to function unless every part is doing its job. Can you imagine a body telling the lungs take a breather we don’t need you? Or the heart, would you stop all the pounding. Or the legs, you can sit this one out. And yet this is the attitude of many in leadership in today’s church.

We pray that God sends us the people we need to fulfill our mission here in this location but we fail to use or are too busy to use the very resources that God has provided.

We devalue the very people we are called to serve. We are often more interested in the “Big Picture” and neglect the “little grapes”. I am reminded that while Jesus ministered to the multitude, almost every miracle He did while He was here on earth was focused on the individual. The only exceptions I can think of are the water into wine and the two times that Jesus fed the multitudes. But think about the blind man, the leper, the woman with an issue of blood, the child raised from the dead or even Lazarus. Every one of these and so many more were Jesus caring for the individual. Perhaps in the midst of our “Big Picture” we have lost sight of what is important to God – individual people.

God forgive us for our failure to value the people you have called us, your servants, to lead.

Learning to value people the way God does

Dr. Val

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