HEALTHY CHURCH ORGANIZATION
Local churches differ from each other in many ways: number and duties of the paid staff, variety of ministries and programs offered, and extent of lay participation in church functioning.
Healthy church organization is not so much a matter of the particular formal structure chosen as it is a right process--the way in which the congregation carries on its activities.
A church is organized in a healthy way when it is able to achieve its congregational goals in an effective manner. Unhealthy organization exists when a church is unable to perform according to the vision God has given to its leaders.
Churches face a constant struggle to avoid the extremes of under-organizing and over-organizing. All churches have a built-in tendency to get out of balance organizationally on one side or the other.
In the under-organized church, congregational leaders struggle largely with efficiency: how to get things done. Due to inadequate organizing, church leaders find it difficult to pull the right "levers" and push the right "buttons" to make the church work.
Telltale signs of under-organization in the local church include the following:
THE OVER-ORGANIZED CHURCH
Churches unbalanced by too much organization are challenged by effectiveness: what things should be done. Unlike the under-organized church, the over-organized church can move efficiently in getting things done. Work is smoothly delegated, job descriptions are followed, and committees deliberate; however, leaders soon find themselves in a quandary over what the church ought to do.
The problem comes from the key shortcoming of over-organization: inadequate congregational feedback. The very same mechanisms that organize church activities (committees, formal programs, job descriptions, employment of specialized staff, etc.) can also damage two-way communication between church leaders and congregation.
In under-organized churches, leaders often are overwhelmed with miscellaneous administrative duties the church is not structured to efficiently provide for. In over-organized churches, leaders can become isolated from much of the congregation because of elaborate structure, specialized duties, and numerous committee responsibilities.
Isolation of leaders can all too easily produce a "we-know-what’s-best-for-you" mentality, as well-organized committees and task groups develop church policy with little input from the grass-roots membership level. S strong expectation develops that leaders are paid to "run the church" for its members.
Additional characteristics of the over-organized church are:
THE FACILITATING CHURCH
In the church that has a balanced organization, leaders equip members for spiritual responsibilities—--he church’s organization helps build spiritual maturity beyond the staff.
In the facilitating church, staff and lay members both have ministering responsibilities. Leaders determine the church’s unique vision. A high priority is given to personalized disciplining, where leaders enable members to spiritually reproduce themselves (evangelism) and help other Christians to grow spiritually. Ultimately, facilitating churches attract members who expect to minister rather than be ministered to.
Facilitating churches also place a high priority on enabling members to discover and practice their diverse spiritual gifts. The local church is viewed not so much as an institution (a collection of people, assets, and resources) but as God’s community knit together by common purposes and shared spiritual gifts and perspectives.
Facilitating churches rely more on spiritual growth than formal programs in generating numerical growth; on disciplining as the foundation of evangelism; on the Holy Spirit for member motivation.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF HEALTHY ORGANIZATION
Harmony. Organization activities in the local church must promote and enhance congregational unity and harmony (Eph.4:3-4). The following guidelines can serve to promote organization harmony:
Diversity. The church must be organized in a way that makes room for diverse personalities, gifts, ministries, and goals (1 Cor. 12:12). Diversity can be promoted in several ways:
Enabling. Church organization must lead members to use their diverse spiritual gifts fruitfully (1 Thess. 5:11). Guidelines to follow are:
Accountability. The church’s organization should hold members accountable to Christ and to one another for their behavior (Rom. 14:12). The following recommendations can enhance healthy accountability.
Few elements of church management are as practical as organization. Healthy organization makes it easier for the church to excel--more results with less energy expended. Ultimately church organization, founded on Christ Himself, is the foundation of church success.