Restructuring Church Organizations 101

restructure-195Our Presbytery voted overwhelmingly today to restructure.  After countless meetings, writes and rewrites of proposals, and finally a lengthy discussion about the job title of a new two-year position (“Community Organizer”?) we approved a new Connectional Mission Design.

One of Big Three Shifts for the 21st Century Church is Organizational Change.  It used to be true, for example, that every member of a church governing board headed up a committee of the congregation (e.g. The Stewardship & Finance Committee, The Education Committee, etc.)  That organizational structure is dead – or should be.

True restructuring will never happen without authentic, deep, broad, difficult, courageous change with buy-in from the majority of the congregation.  Among the easy attempts at church transformation that will not work:

  • Changing the church’s name
  • Installing a new sign
  • Re-naming committees “teams” or “work groups”
  • Calling a new pastor
  • Changing the order of worship
  • Changing the time of weekly worship
  • Shifting the worship style
  • Using words like contemporary, missional, special, & emerging
  • Participating in a denominational or other program that will help you grow/change/figure everything out.

Those things might be pieces of the strategy.  But if there is no energy, if there is no absolute willingness to toss everything that is not about Jesus, then transformation will never happen.

So, now for the good news:

  • This is about the moving of God’s Spirit and so – if we are willing – God will do extraordinary things that will rock us.
  • If we focus on relationships (with God and each other) rather than processes, our souls will be fed.
  • If we consistently ask “How is this _____ (chili cook-off, Bible study, play group, harvest festival) transforming people and communities for good?” we will stop wasting our time on activities that “we’ve always done” or “we have to do” that simply waste precious resources.
  • If we treat people like people – and not like numbers, targets, dollars, trophies or “fresh meat” – we will experience the reign of God.
  • If we model transparency, trust, and grace the behavior of the community will shift.
  • If we focus on the big message (i.e. why we exist) rather than the small messages (e.g. what happened at last week’s rummage sale, the fight over sanctuary paint colors) we will alter the congregation’s DNA.
  • If we truly love our people, we will have the pastoral capital to challenge them.

Lots of organizations are addicted to reorganizing, so we need to look out for that too.

Every denominational entity is reorganizing these days.  But none of it will work if we aren’t willing to give up all the things we love and worship more than Jesus.

Image source.

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6 responses to “Restructuring Church Organizations 101

  1. Reblogged this on The Accidental Minister and commented:
    I need to keep this w/in easy access AND share it at both churches.

  2. This sounds good–you brought a smile to my face and the unchanging items you mentioned haven’t been on my list of necessities as a single mom trying to help churches (heck–ANY church) assist moms in my position who continue spiraling downwards the more we speak of unmet needs for our families to remain intact, whole, fairly mentally sound, able to give and receive real community love in a timely way through church resources without sacrificing needed protection from all that is channeling us into the strengthening power vacuum that sucks us ever closer toward the fastest growing crime of our day–the sexual slavery of women and children–which as far as children are concerned, seems to be trafficked here in the U.S. mostly by the average church-going couple. Just mentioning the latest news in our rapidly changing world sends church and community leaders running to bury their heads in the sand and pretend they never knew us, which just hurts the children (and mom!) worse. We really can’t survive without a voice, but no one appears ready to give us a voice. We are essentially punished for doing good by not turning a blind eye to these difficult demands, and what hurts mom inevitably hurts the kids, too, and so moms in my position end up looking anti-church or anti-Christian unless we submit to silence and feign ignorance, which is just plain wrong and probably creates more bigotry than it solves. By the time I work with professionals enough to show them what’s really going on and how important this is, they’re typically in too deep and likely afraid they may be sued for what they are just now noticing that the seemingly most just and merciful thing to do is stop the relationship with some sort of semi-formal divorce that holds promise to protect each of us well enough in a court of law. So we ARE learning, albeit slowly, and that’s a good thing. But we’re really not keeping up with the rapid change fast enough to keep our children’s heads above the water here. How do we single moms give back in meaningful ways without regularly coming across as the nagging, eternally unsatisfied enemy? Unless the kids tell leaders that their parents are bad in some way, the leaders won’t recognize and yield for their needs for acceptance and belonging, but this breaks up the families. How do we, the most vulnerable within the community, teach you how to love us without backlash? Thanks for considering this. I’m stuck, so anything you have to say will be helpful. 🙂

  3. Dear Gelinda,
    I just read your comment after listened to a video clip in another blog entitled The Hope Blog. I am convicted to share with you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7owD7vErJw

  4. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

  5. Agreed about not renaming committees as teams. Congregations need to eliminate most committees and create true teams. There is a reason the tech sector is the most vital in our economy—they work almost exclusively in teams. Evangelicals have used teams as a growth engine for over a decade. Time for most committees to be eliminated.

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