So many of the commercials I see on T.V. are for prescription medicines or vitamin and mineral supplements directed at me for the wellbeing of my body. It seems to me that I am in the target market of the 55 + million Americans who suffer from stiff and achy joints. These advertisements warn me of a condition that can impede my skeletal system that supports my body and facilitates movement. The ads claim that by taking their product regularly, I can regenerate the fluids which lubricates my body’s swollen and throbbing joints, keeping it healthy and flexible.
The Bible tells us that the church is also a body. It is an organism and as an organism it is a living thing that if healthy will grow and that it is natural for it to grow and function properly. The Bible calls the church a body and the members of the church are like members of a human body. The many parts of the body are diversified yet working together for the betterment of the whole. One member may be a foot, one a hand, one an ear, another an eye. The church is a body; it’s not a building. It is an organism, not an organization. For the organs of your body to beneficially fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body and accomplish their purpose within that body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ’s body the church.
The Bible tells Christians that the church works best as a whole, we have different gifts, according to the grace given us. There is no clear organizational structure in the New Testament, and I don’t think that was an accident. God intentionally left those details out so that the church could adapt to different stages, ages, and cultures. God gives us broad principles, not narrow rules. There is no perfect structure. As we study Scripture, we learn two general principles about organizing and structuring for growth. First, God wants us to organize around the purposes for which he created the church (the great commandment and the great commission) And second, God wants us to organize around the gifts of our members. Purpose and giftedness determine how you should organize your church. So, what does this look like for your local church? What does an unhealthy structure look like contrasted with a healthy structure?
Churches with unhealthy structures:
• Have too many committees.
• Vote on too many issues.
• Lack simple, written parameters for decision-making.
• Spread authority out randomly to those who are voted into positions.
• Move slowly to allow everyone’s turf to remain safe.
Churches with healthy structures, on the other hand:
• Have high trust in their leaders.
• Give responsibility to more leaders based upon their functional giftedness.
• Have few or no committees.
• Do not vote on almost any issues at all.
• Can move more fluidly and adapt to change more quickly.
When organizational structure is overemphasized, a church can lose its focus on accomplishing ministry and make its emphasis meetings and managerial maintenance. If you realign your structure, concentrating on giftedness and the fulfillment of your purpose, then you can strengthen your body by maximizing the effectiveness of your ministries and minimizing time spent in meetings seeking consensus and voting on what the majority thinks is best. When is the last time your hands and feet voted on if, when and where they should serve? When parts of the body function properly they just follow the lead given by the head. So it should also be with a healthy and flexible church.