I have always been cautious when people describe the Church by saying, “It needs to be run like a business.” I have searched the scriptures long and hard, and have yet to find that to be a biblical practice. However, I am also not naïve when I recognize that we have real business problems when running a church; for that reason, sometimes there are valuable insights to be learned from business tactics in the secular world. “Simple Habits for Complex Times,” seems to give both sides of this coin; in one regard, I cringed with comments like, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.” Considering the fact that our Christianity is basically built upon “dogmas of the quiet past,” I would definitely tread carefully when suggesting this is something we should change or “think anew.” However, with that said, it is also a fair assessment to recognize that ministry methodologies and processes have had some technological upgrades since the days of the apostles walking for years to reach each city; in fact, today we have international travel, internet, and even portable computers we hold in our small back pockets. When you recognize these advancements, you must also admit that, at least in some aspects, “Leadership requires ways of thinking anew no matter what era you are in.” I’ll return to this in regard to how it links to my dissertation shortly.
Perhaps the realization that there are qualities of church “business” that must be addressed in order to keep relevant, updated and even appealing to the masses, I found a certain appreciation for the Polarity Map discussed later on. The first step discussed in this process hit home with me almost immediately; “The first step is to notice where you have polarities at play. Polarities are issues that are never solvable in any way that could last…whenever you think about a pendulum swinging from side to side and then overcorrecting to the other, you have a polarity.” I immediately thought about the renovations I have been doing to the church auditorium and foyer; it is never easy convincing a room full of 70 year olds why it is so important to paint the walls and install 75” Television sets. One of our past elders actually built the building I am renovating and gave me more than a little grief along the way when I wanted to knock down some paneling and enlarge the stage. Our reading stated, “We need greater clarity about our priorities, roles and results. This will make us a more effective organization and we will remove the costly churn and confusion that comes from too much flexibility and uncertainty.”
This was basically the approach I had to take the eldership, as well as with many of the older members of the congregation; I simply asked them what they thought our goals as a congregation for the future should be. Nearly everyone had a similar answer; “We want to grow our church without compromising the message.” From this point I asked questions regarding factors that may hinder our ability to reach out to new people; again, it was almost unanimous; “Our building is old and dirty looking.” Amen…we had a consensus. How I wish that made things easier. More words from the reading echoed from the past 6 months of preparation: “When any of us is faced with a polarity, we might have the urge to solve it. Most leaders have this reflex.” I am definitely one of those; perhaps that is why I partially disagreed with the statement that followed; “The trouble with polarities is that they can’t be solved…” Scripture commands us as Christians to, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Perhaps this is one of the areas that the business world stops where I believe the Church should continue; we are supposed to be a loving, giving, considerate people.
“A theory of adult grown and development offers us something of a guidebook to our potential growth, not to decide in advance what our journey might be, but to have a sense of the journey before us and some of the patterns of discoveries people often make along the way.”
As Christians, we use a different guidebook and should be very cautious when diverting away from it.
Now back to the dissertation. One of my greatest concerns these days in regard to doctrine in the church is the fact that churches are becoming more accommodating in regards to the people, rather than remaining firm to the biblical commandments in Scripture. Paul warned the Ephesian church that “we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up things into Him who is the head–Christ.” In regard to my topic on “Baptism Truths of the Bible,” my fear is that too many churches have failed to teach the convicting qualities of baptism because of the effects they fear that may have on potential converts. Bible-based moves such as the “Son of God,” literally rewrote the Scripture found in Matthew 28:18-20 to NOT include Christ very own command for baptism. Perhaps, ‘keeping up with the Jones’ and ‘appealing to the masses’ is not always the best motivation where Churches are involved.
Over the past month, I have installed two 75” televisions, a brand new microphone system, updated our assisted listening devices, enlarged the stage, painted and redecorated the auditorium and foyer, and even challenged myself to install new lights and electrical outlets; however, my sermons are all still completely bible-based and centered on “The dogmas of the quiet past.” My desire is to find that churches can learn to update their buildings, reorganize their ministries, and accommodate the Polarity Map; and yet, that they can proudly proclaim;
Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Berger, James Garvey & Keith Johnston. Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015.
Polarity Partners. n.d. http://www.polaritypartnerships.com/#home (accessed March 3, 2019).
 Berger, James Garvey & Keith Johnston. Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015, Pg. 7.
 Polarity Partners. n.d. http://www.polaritypartnerships.com/#home (accessed March 3, 2019).
 Berger, pg 96.
 Berger, p. 97
 Romans 15:5-6.
 Berger, p.175.
 Ephesians 4:14.