See yesterday’s post for the intro to this little series.
Just as the 21st Century Church requires a fresh emphasis on our neighborhoods, 21st Century Church also requires a different way of being organized from the congregations we once knew. Sadly, most of our churches are organized exactly the same way our grandparents’ churches were organized:
- There’s the preacher who is often the de facto Professional Christian.
- There are elders and/or deacons who may or may not be spiritual leaders, but they are always power players (or so they believe.)
- There’s a dependence on members who don’t have paid employment which means that any stay-at-home-mom and all the retirees are expected to fulfill all the volunteer jobs.
- There’s an organist and/or a choir director.
- There’s a church secretary who actually runs everything.
In “contemporary churches” a Worship Leader may have been added in the 1980s.
The problem with this kind of church organization is that it fulfills neither the needs of a postmodern spiritual community nor the Biblical guidance on how spiritual communities are called to exist:
- The pastor is far more than a preacher who delivers “good sermons.” The most effective pastors today are entrepreneurial vision casters who equip and coach the rest of the staff so that they connect people to a higher purpose and inspire the people to make an impact throughout the neighborhood.
- The elders/deacons are servant leaders. They are spiritually grounded and willing to create a community that welcomes all people. They track spiritual transformation. They work well together – not always agreeing but leaving each decision-making meeting as one unit for the sake of the Reign of God.
- The anxiety over not having enough volunteers (unlike the 1950s when churches enjoyed the time and talent of many stay-at-home moms) is negligible because even busy people are committed to offering what they can with their eyes on being the church (not going to church.)
- Music is varied and moving – regardless of what kind of instruments are used. Maybe there are no instruments except for human voices. But there’s a clear understanding that music is about praising God rather than personal performance. Music leaders express joy because that’s their authentic feeling.
- The administrative support could be a business director, a volunteer coordinator, a building supervisor, and/or a communications leader.
Most of all the organization of a thriving church today . . .
- Is relentlessly innovative
- Always asks “why?” (and not just “what” and “how” – as in “Why are we doing this?”)
- Is passionate for growth even if it means dismantling tired ways of doing ministry.
- Puts itself in the shoes of those who are not yet among them. Recognizes that everything (from the signage to the prayer list) needs to be guest-friendly.
- Evaluates everything lovingly and fearlessly from the performance of paid staff and volunteers alike to every meeting, class, program, and event – so that it can be better next time. God deserves our best.
The 21st Century Church is organized for a relational community rather than an attractional community. It takes a bit of adapting, but we can do this.
Image is relational art (with lots of light bulbs) by Carsten Holler.