5 Traction Points: Profile, sleek!
Actually, it's a boat! This one is modeled after a new car of the future, a dream on someone's drawing board. It's designed to glide through the water with ultimate efficiency. Part of it's appeal is speed, propulsion systems that make it fast. More than that, it's design is smooth and sleek. This boat cuts through the water with little resistance or drag because it's profile is engineered to move.
Many organizations, and their leaders, can't navigate the currents of the times because they are clunkers, weighted down with complicated organizational structures, governing documents no one can understand, a quagmire of procedural impediments, obscure goals and objectives, and layers of decision making steps that hinder movement. It's one of the reasons effective organizations perform regular evaluations of their people and their systems. Behind the scenes in many great companies is an administrative staff or team leader skilled with keeping the group lean and uncluttered, unleashed from bulky, slow elements that frustrate the human resources, waste the other resources, and affect the result of their mission.
Churches tend to gather a good bit of clutter too. Not just old Sunday School or teaching meaterials discarded in corners or an over-accumulation of items for the clothes closet or food pantry. Often congregations gather rules and regulations, operating procedures, committees, and other mandated
restrictions that keep the church from engaging their local communities and pursuing their biblical mission. Some of them are actually written, and some are not. Tradition somtimes defines the structure and inhibits intentional outreach and discipleship making. In many instances these appendages weigh the minstry functions of the church so heavily that volunteers and workers are frustrated, and leaders can't find traction to the mission.
Scripture addresses these matters in many places. Jesus taught his disciples to seek treasures in heaven and not on earth. He also warned them about the traditions of men becoming more important than the assignment from God. Paul told Timothy to exercise care ebout becoming entangled in the things of th e world. He referred to running a race on more than one occasion and being a good soldier of Christ on others. The great leaders of the New Testament usually led ascetic lives weith few possessions, and the procedures used in planting churches and maintaining them were usually very broad. Their system of governance was simple and they were able to respond to God's leading immediatley. Of coursse, they prayed, consulted the Apostles and elders, and utilized the Body of Christ image as their basic guiding precept. But, they were sleek and prepared to obey as God directed them.
How can a church organization become sleek and responsive to the Father and the world he sent them to serve? There are a couple of items---
(1) Streamline the organiztional chart. Leaders in the church can find traction in their mission assignment if they are aware of their responsibilities, budgets, and other critical matters, and if they are trusted to fulfill them. Complictaed purchasing procedures and approvals create difficulty for administraion and leadership of the ministry team.
(2) Update church by-laws, covenants, committee strructures, and operating procedures regularly. We didn't do everything right but Northwood Baptist Church appointed a by-law revision team every four years. This helped keep strong, fresh boundaries around the minsitry organization and leadership team.
(3) Build the leadership team and ministry organization around biblical models. Jesus appointed twelve men as Apostles. Elders were chosen to lead new churches. Deacons were given service and care assignments. Standards for teachers and the various age groups within the body were implemented. In the New Testament era they avoided the traditions of men.
(4) Understand the authority given to leaders in the New Testament and reinforce that authority in the pursuit and fulfillment of the church's mission. The by-laws should provide guards against the abuse of authority---functions requiring a church vote, broad financial expectations, clearly annotated reporting mechanisms, specific position descriptions, and such.
(5) Regular evaluations of every ministry organization for kingdom effectiveness and contrubution to the mission of the church. Outdated functions and poistions should be eliminated to keep the mission organization fresh and responsive.
The author of Hebrews wrote, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1).
Every weight. Every single one.