Killing Church Committees and Other Reflections on Church Organization

Do We Have to Look Like a Fortune 500 company?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way churches organize their common lives. Part of my D.Min. project years centered on reexamining that most ubiquitous form church organization—the “functional church” model.

In a post-World War II era, when the country was heavily invested in manufacturing as the life-blood of the economy the functional church model–based on the industrial organizational model, which privilege efficiency and production–appeared perfectly natural … almost like the universe itself was organized that way. So, when churches started to have a “board of directors” that oversaw the work of “departments” and “committees,” modeled after the indisputable success of Ford and GM, it seemed to make good “business sense.” In fact, early visionaries of this model of church organization went so far as to understand the church’s work to be production, not of durable or household goods, but of “spiritual” goods.

Continue reading on about what the church needs to do to engage a new generation of leaders #ccdoc


2 thoughts on “Killing Church Committees and Other Reflections on Church Organization

  1. Derek, you have written thoughtfully and insightfully about the conclusions that I arrived at after 23 years as a United Methodist pastor. My own background in anthropology and sociological analysis led me to almost identical conclusions. What I think is killing the church more than theological differences or styles of worship or any of the other more commonly cited causes is “how” we function as church.

    We fail to function well because we are following a paradigm that no longer works. We are organized as if we are a compartmentalized Fortune 500 company strongly influenced by principle of representative democracy. Committees and boards are empowered with authority to make decisions and the majority rules.

    I always espoused the approach that if it is a decision about program then we only count the yes votes. If people want to do something let it happen. Get out of the way and let them do it and join up with them if you care about it. We stifle creativity. We perpetuate old approaches that no longer work out of a loyalty to traditions and customs.

    The church in so many places is dying because of it. Thanks for your thoughts here!

    • Fred, I’m extremely grateful for your thoughtful comments. I think we’re going to continue to struggle as a church until we make peace with the fact that a different day requires different tools.

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