middle managers in christendom

October 10, 2004 | 4 Comments

I read the paragraph below in an article over at Next-Wave and thought it was worth passing along:

I hold a theological conviction that churches, rightly conceived, are fundamentally personal. They exist to bring people into personal relationships with each other and with the tri-personal God. I suppose some degree of bureaucratization may be inevitable in today’s world, but I wonder how faithfully a bureaucratic scheme can fulfill the theological vision of the church? I wonder how much frustration and disappointment staff members and congregants have experienced because they were expecting a community and encountered a bureaucracy? I wonder if we are sufficiently examining the ramifications of the attempt to merge two potentially incompatible organizational models: one inherently personal, one inherently impersonal?

I continue to hold that a church both must be personal in nature, but still maintain degree of structure/organization. I have yet to fully figure out what this looks like, or if it is possible. Are the two fundamentally at odds with each other? Are organic and organized diametrically opposed to each other?

  • some dude

    Thats a great question. There is obviously a tension between the two, but I definitely lean towards personal…as I guess many people do.
    Its wierd because part of my job is to create a sort of bureacracy…a sort of system for things in my church. I spend little time with people. Its not all bad, but I don’t like it, and the bigger things get, the more complicated it gets.

    It scares me when people start to talk about discipleship (for instance) as a system. If I get someone to come to church first, then attend a small group, and then serve a couple hours a week, then they are on pretty much there. Its almost a “push these three buttons, and pull a lever, and voila…out pops a disciple” approach. Not quite, and no one wants it to be that way, but…

    I been listened to some Rob Bell lately and have started to question if half the time I (and maybe other churches) are really focused too much on converting people to our church, our ministry, (our systems), and getting them involved, etc. but not as much on converting them to Christ himself and truly living out a wholistic life.

  • Gary

    I agree with that last comment. Bringing people to Christ has almost become synonymous with bringing people to church. It’s good to remember that while church is a part of Christianity. The two are not equal.

  • Without the personal, there would be no organizational. The organization is healthy when it is the outcome of personal relationship and like-vision, not the other way around. A bureaucracy, however, is not the result of community. Hierarchical authority does not perpetuate community, but rather tends to lead to power posturing and various forms of abuse. – at least in a bureaucracy. I would much rather be met with a commune than a bureaucracy, though I am uncomfortable with both.

  • I hereby coin the term organicization as my official term for what the church should look like. Now…to define it…