Church Life & Discipleship 2

In the previous post I said that a discipleship-oriented church needs its entire organisational culture to be directed around this priority. This raises some more questions for me:

  • Are we able to define our organisational culture? Maybe it's a term that smacks a little too strongly of management methodology. However I contend that a church always has an organisational culture, whether clearly understood and defined or not. Its just that where it isn't defined it will lack direction and clear vision. How would you define your church's organisational culture? What catgories would you use and would discipleship be one of them?
  • Does our organisation culture reflect the need to keep on discipling people at every level?
  • Does our organisational culture lead us into God’s purposes to mature individuals, or prevent us from doing so? eg, do we put so much time and effort into other things because of different organisational goals, expectations or structures that need to be serviced that our current structure actually prevents us reorganising to place a high priority on discipleship?

I think it is very helpful for all churches to have a chart that clearly shows how each respective part or ministry of the church is connected to focussed core vision. Without this it becomes harder over time to evaluate everything we do, any prospective new activity or any existing activity that may need to come to an end according to vision.  

The organisational culture of many churches clearly doesn't require activities to be oriented around, or evaluated according to, vision. Nor does it require leaders of activities to lead with focus on that vision. Were we to ask “does every leader of every activity at our church lead specifically and deliberately for discipleship growth in some way?” the answer would presently be no. Similarly, if we were to ask whether all of our leaders are equipped to conceive of their role in this way, and skilled to carry through on it, the answer would also be no. Similarly, if we were to ask whether all leaders of activities clearly understand the connection between their activity and the focussed vision of the church, and whether they make that vision a major focus of their activity the answer would also be no. I suspect we are not unusual in this.

What a lack of organisational clarity indicates is:

1.       Not all members will expect to be led around a focussed vision

2.       Not all leaders will understand that they have to lead to a focussed vision

3.       Not all activities are unified around our vision

4.       Our organisational culture allows a lot of latitude but at the expense of laser sharp focus

Any church sooner or later reaches the point where it has accreted lots of activities over many years. It is much easier to start activities than it is either to stop them or to reorient them around a vision. Having lots of activities with their own vision rather than a clear and unified vision means there is work to be done to bring all aspects of church life under unified ministry goals.

Churches in this situation tend to multiply activities because they are good things to do rather than because there is a clear understanding of how everything we do needs to fit fits with our fundamental calling and goals. Limited resources tend therefore to be too thinly spread around activities that are good but the enemy of the best, because they are not focussed.