Are You Organized for Growth or Control in Your Church?

One of the pastors on our staff was overheard saying to another staffer, “One of the things that makes Meck so different is that it is not organized for control, but organized for growth.”

He gets it.

It’s a simple, but profound, idea.

When you are organized for control, then your decision making, systems, processes…they’re all about controlling things. The goal is to make sure everything is done a certain way, or that everything done is allowed. It’s more about the preservation of the status quo than it is the challenge of it.

When you are organized for growth, you are structured for rapid decision making, fluid thinking, the absence of sacred cows, the ability to think outside of the box. You are constantly asking: “How can we do this better? What would be even more effective?”

And leaders are free to follow the conclusions.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to lead a seminar or conference, lay out some simple decision or action that would radically improve a church’s health or effectiveness, and have it be met by a chorus of leaders saying, “We can’t do that.” And nine times out of 10, it’s not because they don’t have the money, the volunteers, the facility or even the desire—it’s because they don’t have the freedom.

They are not organized for growth, but for control.

And if they tried to get the permission needed by whatever authority is in place, they would be shut down because that “authority” is not trained, sensitized or inclined to make such decisions. If anything, they are vested in the status quo. So the ones best able to make decisions are not allowed to; the ones least qualified are. Or decision making is so radically democratized and shared, requiring so much time to act, that you lose the window of time to act!

I know there are a wide number of approaches to church government, from “elder rule” to a more congregationally based approach. Yet most forms of church government have three features that dominate their structure: committees, policies and majority rule.

None of these terms are found in the Bible, and all three can kill you.

For example, committees keep the people who are doing the ministry from making the decisions about the ministry. Authority and responsibility become separate from one another. An effective structure, on the other hand, lets the individuals who are the most intimately involved in a particular ministry and the best qualified make the day-in, day-out decisions regarding that ministry.

The problem with policies is what Philip Howard calls the death of common sense. A policy makes decisions and directs procedure independent of the situation. In many ways, this is considered to be the strength of a policy. The dilemma is that it removes judgment from the process.

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SOURCE: Church Leaders, James Emery White