The Witness of the Church’s Organizational Life

Usually when seeking to build Christian community the focus falls upon the development of various kinds of “fellowship” or small groups.  Often overlooked are the many small groups that already exist, namely the administrative or leadership groups, teams or committees of the church.  Little attention is given to the use of power and authority, the way information is shared, the nature of decision-making, the openness and receptivity of church leaders, the quality of peer relationships, the process of determining organizational goals, or the manner of recognizing and affirming organizational involvement.

Yet the church is called to manifest the qualities of Christian love–compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience (Col. 3:12) in all aspects of its life and work.  In fact, many teams and groups flounder because they have not given appropriate attention to organizational skills: participatory decision-making, cooperative planning, shared leadership, and the creative utilization of conflict.  Within an impersonal, fragmented, and competitive world, these relational skills do not come naturally.  They must be learned, tested, and practiced within a community of people who come together to participate in God’s new creation: an alternative way of living and working together.  In the actualization of its mission–proclaiming and embodying God’s forgiving and reconciling love–all aspects of the church must be both faithful and effective, including and especially the administrative teams, staff teams and leadership groups of the congregation.  

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What groups already exist in your congregation that can demonstrate an alternative way of working together?
  2. How do your leadership groups express God’s love?