Church Structure & Leadership Smackdown: The Academy vs. The Business Model

I may have gotten myself in trouble just with the post title, but that’s nothing new around here. Seems I’m making a habit of mixing it up with Jamie lately on controversial issues… I’m soon gonna have to go down there and have a casual lunch with the boy.

So yesterday, Jamie asked an “open question” on ecclesiological formation. He quotes someone else’s observation, that “Many students, once leaving academy and entering into church ministry seem to stop thinking theologically, falling into business models of church structure and leadership.” The observers in this case are holding a small internal forum to discuss the question, about which Jamie is hosting a “pre-forum” forum discussion on his blog in response to the question he poses, “What are some of the factors that contribute to this problem and what can be done to correct it?”

There’s some good discussion there already. My responses toss around words like “presuppositions” and “false dichotomy,” and I fear may not be as helpful as what Jamie needs for his purposes. He’s asking a question that needs a response, and I suggest anyone with thoughts on the matter may wish to offer them there. I, however, am thinking about this along different lines, and thought I would comment here rather than hijacking Jamie’s discussion and pursuing a different train of thought. In the comments to Jamie’s post, “Cindy” (I don’t know if it’s one of the Cindys? Cindies? Cindy’s? people by that name who comment here regularly) asks a great question:

Has there been a time and place in which the Church has existed freely (or with governmental blessing)that it did not also allowed secular thinking and/or business models to redefine its ecclesiology to some extent?

…And of course I (after leaving a second comment for Jamie) grabbed my copy of Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church and flipped to page 66:

And what of structure? The organizations structures of Christendom are in a real sense worlds away from that of the early church—something like comparing the United Nations to Al Qaeda.

And then I moved along to page 58-59:

So how does the idea of cultural distance relate to Christendom and our situation now? Well, the transformation of the church from marginal movement to central institution started with the Edict of Milan (AD 313), whereby Constantine, the newly crowned emperor who had claimed a conversion to Christianity, declared Christianity to be the official state religion, thereby eventually delegitimizing all others. But Constantine went beyond eventually proclaiming Christianity as the top-dog official religion: in order to bolster his political regime, he sought to bond church and state in a kind of sacred embrace, and so he brought all the Christian theologians together and demanded that they come up with a common theology that would unite the Christians in the empire and so secure the political link between church and state. Not surprisingly, he also instituted a centralized church organization based in Rome to “rule” the churches and to unite all Christians everywhere under one institution, with direct links to the state. And so, everything changed, and what was thereafter called “Christendom” was instituted. [Quoting research notes from Dr. Stuart Murray, author of Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (After Christendon):]

The foundation of the Christendom system was a close, though sometimes fraught, partnership between church and state, the two main pillars of society. Through the centuries, power struggles between popes and emperors resulted in one or the other holding sway for a time. But the Christendom system assumed that the church was associated with a status quo htat was understood as Christian and had vested interests in its maintenance. The church provided religions legitimization for state activities, and the state provided secular force to back up ecclesisastical decisions.

Now, there are a few ways we could go with all of this information. Of course I’m always thinking of missional applications, and these passages from Hirsch are in the midst of his description of the movement from attractional to incarnational ministry… and we can talk about that. But the question I’m thinking about at the moment is one which we’ve touched on before around here, about the application of business models and insights to church contexts. The questions to me are not so much if the two are compatible, but in what way the insights from one area can be applied to another. The corollary questions arise from what Cindy asked, namely to what extent our current models of church structure (and leadership) have been informed by older secular ones? How “pure” are the forms of church structure and leadership that we’ve inherited? Can they be reformed, or must they be reinvented? How realistic is the common cry for a “return” to Biblical models, and do we understand how disruptive that might potentially be? Do we understand what those models might look like?


  1. I appreciate the inquiry and I have a sneaking suspicion that it has less to do with any real or imagined dichotomy of the two, but more to do with an inability of graduated seminarians to explain structure theologically. I think if this were more integrated into the curriculum of church leadership and adminsitration the transition would not be so rough, and the former theologian now thrown into a world they thought would be rife with theological conversations now dwelling more in the realm of structural conversations where the language present happens to be that of secualr business.
    So maybe the idea would be to determine appropriate ways in which the conversation of structure can take on Biblical and Theological language.

  2. Brother Maynard,
    Thanks for taking this on. That’s exactly what I was getting at. In my rare moments of idealism I want to say we can throw it all out and get back to the biblical model of church. But my pragmatic 99% keeps searching for a picture of what that is. Problem is that every example i can come up with is, to use Hirsch’s words, a “marginal movement” rather than a “central institution.”

    So, i find myself wondering, like you, if it’s even realistic to hope for a biblical model church unless we’re also hoping to become marginalized.

    I’ll be eagerly awaiting your definitive conclusions.

  3. Let me ask what a Biblical model of the church would look like. The church of the New Testament is constantly changing and adapting. They begin in the Temple and end up spread across creation.

    The Bible, as we presently know it was not canonized until the 4th Century. Is there even a biblical model of church as an institution? (I think my answer is self-evident – but then again, I would.)

    The Church, the living and breathing Body of Christ is constantly adapting. The Institutional Church in its 100,000 variations is the part of that body that appears throughout time to adapt and then ossify, thinking they have the final revelation and understanding of what the church should look like.

    As to BroMay’s original post – as people engaged in dealing with cultural shifts, creative leaders in society have voices we, the church, need to listen to – think the Cluetrain authors, Richard Florida, Kathy Sierra, the late Gordon Mackenzie, etc. But if I hear one more pastor talk about Jim Collins’ BHAGs, to quote Russel Peters’ Dad, “somebody gonna get a hurt real bad!”

  4. Hmmm … this sentence in Bill’s comment “The Church, the living and breathing Body of Christ is constantly adapting. The Institutional Church in its 100,000 variations is the part of that body that appears throughout time to adapt…” got me thinking about the whole “Body” analogy.

    I wonder if we don’t stretch that analogy far enough sometimes. What if the Body is meant to describe more than just the immediate community? I wonder if it’s meant to describe the whole Church (worldwide) and thus each small faith community ought to look somewhat different and function somewhat differently … just as a hand functions differently than an eye (etc.). We are accepting (sort of) these differences amongst people. Perhaps we need to be more accepting of such wild variations amongst communities as well. Perhaps I’m writing when I should just be thinking … but bodies … that is physical bodies … change and adapt to fit into the physical environment. So it would stand to reason that a spiritual body might need to change and adapt to it’s physical and spiritual environment as well. All of this is, perhaps, what Bill was saying and far more succinctly than I. But … he did get me thinking.

  5. I agree with Sonja, let’s take the analogy further… when you say ‘ossify’, Bill, is this intended to be good our bad? ‘Cause my body happens to enjoy the fact that some parts of me are in fact bone…I’d be a useless blob if this were not the case. It is no ‘cooler’ to be elastic and flexible than it is to be rigid and stiff when it comes to the whole of the body…it is all intended to work together. The new branches on a tree should be thankful that there is indeed hardwood and bark beneath it…it is foolish to look down and mock – ‘why can’t you be more green’. I’m getting a little tired of the anti-Constantine thing – again, I’d argue for Illich’s view of the high-middle age transition into ‘institutions’ or more simply to VanTil’s Eden as a better mark for why the church is ‘messed-up’ today…I can’t help but think that amongst all this longing for something better and real that our incessant pragmatism and pride insures that we will never make it past a 6 week fetus or past the height of grass…
    “To what extent our current models of church structure (and leadership) have been informed by older secular ones?� – First, let’s remember that all our modern secular structures were adapted from the medieval church…so how do we answer this?
    I guess what I don’t understand is, why does church have to be everything? Why can’t everyone BE ‘missional’ – engage their sphere of influence – and the church simply be church…?

  6. I realize I didn’t fully come back to Biblical language, structure, or model. I think I may have tried to imply, but to be more clear, it appears to me that the Bible is a lot less concerned with these ideas than we are… meaning God gives a lot more latitude than we do. As with many doctrines, the Bible seems to be general and we’re specific; it seems to provide leeway but we do not. All that to say that perhaps there is no one right, proper, and absolute form or structure for the church, but instead there are characteristics to which each form or structure must hold or aspire.

    Thoughts on that one, anybody?

  7. Sonja,
    Happy to get you thinking – now, if I could only achieve the same thing myself – getting myself thinking, that is.

    Ossify as in “cease developing, be stagnant or rigid.” Sorry that you’re getting “a little tired.” Perhaps a change of diet and more exercise might help.

  8. (Please nobody yell at me for this), but could we say that the emerging church is, at least in part, an attempt at re-marginalizing the Church in the hope of re-discovering the purity and fluidity that was lost when the church “grew up and left home” (or became centralized–or however you want to phrase it)?

    On a slightly different note:
    you know what bugs me? All day I’ve been pushing this thought away and it’s been pinging right back to the front of my mind.

    Ac 2:41 “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

    There it is- right there. On the day of Pentecost, the “birthday of the Church,” the last thing (Luke) wrote in summation of the day was a head count.

    I honestly do hate it. I don’t know what to do with it. I liked Pernell’s thoughts. I think we have to get away from the “more is better” mentality because it’s killing the Church. But even in it’s purest, newborn, ever so fluid state, the Church counted heads. And there was nothing wrong with it. Today, we count heads and end up worshiping the number instead of the savior. Why the difference?

    I’d be mighty obliged if somebody would wrap that up neatly for me.

  9. nouveau marginale :-)

  10. Cindy,
    Me too. It gives us a sense of what happened that day, but I don’t think we should draw too much from it… I think it’s the last time a count is given for a church. The next thing that happened (which Luke doesn’t talk about) is that those 3,000 people all went back home to various places all over the known world at the time. Pentecost was a pilgrimage feast, and that’s why they were in Jerusalem… I guess you could say it’s the ultimate attractional apologetic ;^) Still, it’s descriptive, part of the story — not a blueprint.

    Perhaps it was they they counted and dispersed, we count and hoard.

  11. “All that to say that perhaps there is no one right, proper, and absolute form or structure for the church, but instead there are characteristics to which each form or structure must hold or aspire.”

    TO me this captures it. We actually need a missional-incarnational ecclesiology that starts at the end point.. Eliot’s “the end in the beginning…” so that we know the place for the first time. The end is Jesus and His kingdom. If we understand what that looks like and live into it (and Him) we might come up with the kind of fluidity of structure.. a structure that floats on Spirit wings.. functional priority and not form.. living and adaptable.. that will actually serve God’s purpose in our generation. Note: OUR generation, not the last and not the next, they will have to reinvent and recalibrate for that time, based on what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

    Re: the bones vs the flesh. Perhaps the only bones we can trust are already given, but are sacramentally present. Not meaning to complexify but I have a picture in my head of a great tree with many branches. As in any spring time image, the greater tree is solid, dark and immovable but look at the life and greenery on the rim.. at the tip of the branches! The tree is the living Church through history. So.. it’s not what we “see” necessarily on the outside but we hear it in the stories. Those stories contain life, but not meant to be slavishly adapted but rather interpreted through the tri-lenses of today’s living Church, Scripture and the Spirit.. If we try to transfer solidity to the rim, out where the thin branches are swaying in the breeze, the tree will not support them and they will break off. Out at the edges we need flexibility, adaptability, new life not huge and immovable bones.

    Thoughts on that one, anybody?

  12. Hello…coming in on this discussion from Wikiklesia…who would know it would touch on one of my pet subjects???

    Having a dual major of Organizational Management and Biblical Studies, I have been thinking long and hard for almost 30 years about institutional structures and what the church has absorbed from many places in its history….no time today, sadly, to really get into it.

    But I do believe that a turning point might be related to the lure of the structure of the Old Covenant as a “comfort zone” reaction to the freedom and individual responsibility required by New Covenant discipleship. My friend, S. Scott Bartchy, wrote a pamphlet called “How much freedom can you stand?” that gets right to it. Freedom requires responsibility.

    I also believe that the growing move toward “professional” clergy and away from the priesthood of the believers began in the same time and in the same manner. It is the people of the New Covenant rejecting Christ as Lord and their call to be priests of God…just as the people of the Old Covenant rejected God as King and wanted a “king like everyone else.”

    God as ultimate Servant/Situational Leader calls us to a standard we want loopholes from which to escape.

    There…that’s the big picture. My take from my current position, gone from professinal pastoral ministry for two years and preparing to launch a very different model of church planting, is that it will be terribly painful, if it is even possible, for the church to begin to differentiate the poison they have become immune to in terms of understanding power and leadership and structure.

    Because, in the end, structures–by definition–become more about purpose than about people. And in that environment, there will always be someone who will give absolution to someone else for treating people in an unrighteous manner “because it will be the best for the church.”

    Better stop…my soap box was beginning to spring up :)

    I can see that I will have to add another blog to my list…too many conversations, too little time.


  13. Okay…one more log for this fire….

    If you will look back on a few of the leaders in the “secular” marketplace’s rise of a more humane management you will find two giants: Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term “servant leadership” and Kenneth Blanchard, who coined the term “situational leadership.” What is striking is that these are Christian men.

    I have wondered many times whether their ideas were submitted but not embraced by the church, and so they took them to the marketplace…because that was how they were leading in their neighborhood of the marketplace…and it was working…and other people wanted to know what they did that was so different.

    At least, in these two men, we have the church leading the world…but too few of the church people have embraced the thoughts of these two great men…because they refuse to use power in a coersive manner and they are focused on the best interest of those they are serving as leaders.

    These ideas are not popular…gee, I wonder why…but they are the only way to get it right. People are not “human resources” to be “leveraged” for the advantage of “the church”. They are brothers and sisters, part of one living Body of Christ…of which Christ is the head, not some CEO…

    …how much freedom can you stand?

  14. Peggy, good point, Greenleaf was well recognized, to the point where virtually very pastor and Christian leader will identify him/herself as a servant leader. No problem, we have arrived ;) We are great at adopting language and subverting it for our own ends while completely avoiding the collision of paradigms. Hmm…
    “missional” anyone?

  15. I assume I’m going to get a collective rolling of the eyes here (I sincerely apologize upfront), but what do we mean when we say ‘church’? I mean, when we say ‘business’ it is pretty clear – we mean the place where we go work, or the place we get/do something. I work for/at a [place of] business, but I would not say that I constitute a part of this business…and certainly when I go home I put that part of me aside. Church on the other hand seems to be quite different…It is a place I go to do/get something (certain forms of worship/instruction – direction/community)…I do feel that I am a part of the church, and when I leave the group I believe I still am – I don’t stop being part of the church when I go home to bed. But aside from all that, to which to a large extent revolves around me, I also believe that the church is something much older and less obvious…perhaps I have simply become blind to the whole 80’s power church thing – the CEO leader/mega-church junk…but when I hear the bells ringing in the center of town I think this is important. The church IS also a building, an artwork, a whisper of those who have gone before us… There is something about that sense of church that is not without meaning – good meaning…it is a signpost, albeit a largely ignored one, to orient oneself towards that which deserves to be worshipped – God.
    I can’t help but feel sometimes that we stand in judgment of the past implicitly saying that the church is simply the sum of its living-breathing parts…this seems like an incredibly myopic view of church in my opinion. I am very happy ditching the 80’s 90’s pragmatic ecclesiology…I am so for being ‘missional’ (aka actually being a Christian)…I certainly think we must be engaging with our surroundings in a multiplicity of ways and styles…but I don’t understand why we need to be so quick in calling it ‘church’. Does calling it church help us feel better, or help justify what we are doing? In a time where ‘meaning’ in everyway is blurring…do we really want to refocus our conception of church? Doesn’t this all feel a little too self-conscious sometimes? What of tradition?

    “Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead…Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.â€? G.K. Chesterton

    I know it is a basic question that has been chewed on a million times…but, what is church? Can we remove ourselves from the middle of the answer?

  16. Okay, Len, we’ve embraced the “servant leadership” one, which is the “soft” one, in my book, because it is rather difficult to “pin” down…like “love your neighbor”…but Blanchard nails it with Situational Leadership–a very comprehensive model. It is taught all over the place in business management classes (my textbook was the 6th edition!)…but it is a tough row to hoe and many do not ever become proficient…because it is “other” focused…which means it cannot be about “me”, by definition. No one wants to put down the power and pick up the towel….

    I’ll feel better when something like “Situational Servant Leadership” gets more play. Perhaps some feel that it is associated with situational ethics, which is not the case at all….hmmm…. And Situational Leadership is waay missional….I’ve got another name for it: covenant-keeping (chesed. Folks don’t like that one either…too other focused…

    Ryan, I won’t roll my eyes, but I will say this:

    The church is the Body of Christ, made up of its many individuals, all mystically “in” Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit…this church gathers together in different locations throughout the world, and it has buildings that hold its meetings…but buildings are not the church, they are tools of the church to be used to accomplish God’s mission through each individual Christian as well as through groups of Christian who band together to join God in his mission to reconcile the people of the world to himself (and each other).

    For those who are “professional clergy” or staff members, the church is their employer…it is where they work…and this is where everything gets screwed up. Because then the managers at the church feel that they can “use” their brothers and sisters to accomplish the goals and objectives of the church…not necessarily God’s mission at all times. And when that happens, it’s very bad…for everyone. And if the managers encounter “challenges” with those brothers and sisters, they frequently find ways to “encourage them to move on” rather than help them mature and grow in Christ…or refuse to grow themselves by following the servant leadership in their midst. And so these people must leave that fellowship and start over somewhere. But very little “truth” is ever told or heard–by anyone–and so those who leave are wounded and those who stay are wounded…and no one binds up the wounds, because they would have to acknowledge them in order to do that…and so the blind eye and deaf ear are turned….and blood pools in the halls…and gets tracked everywhere…what a mess!

    Oops…that soap box popped up…

  17. The Brother proposes an opposition “the Academy vs. the Business model” – and suggests “I may have gotten myself in trouble just with the post title” Probably… but perhaps from a perspective not raised as yet… The trouble with your title Brother is that “the Academy” and “the Business” are NOT opposed models…

    While the academy may teach a “biblical” model it lives by a “business model.” The organisation is infected with all the pretensions, politics, kudos and reward systems of hierarchical “management” structures. So, which does the student believe… the preaching or the practice? What incentive is there to believe the preaching, when the practice exists in the Academy and is the same practice faced in church life? Those who teach set the entry benchmark for others to enter the hallowed halls – and if there are insufficient signs of malleability or potential co-dependency it’s likely to be “hasta la vista Baby!” Entry as a student or lecturer generally requires “success” in a benchmark set by academia – it’s self-fulfilling prophecy! Until there is a requirement for academics to also be CURRENTLY involved in practicing mission and CURRENTLY living in the real world, our academia will perpetuate institutionalisation along with it’s demi-gods, vice-principals and lack of other principles!

    On a number of blogs I read laments regarding the existing structures… but most speak with the voice of a victim. Primarily it appears because they seek the resources of the existing system, but would prefer not to dance to the required tune. Few voices speak of sacrificing the opportunity to take advantage of existing resources, to operate outside of the “system” and begin the attempt to practice biblically without compromise. Most have already been bought before they started…

    Here’s the question… “who has bought you?”

    “Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” from 1 Cor 6 in the Message

    When you’ve genuinely been bought you’re no longer for sale… if you’re still for sale were you ever genuinely bought in the first place? Food for thought


    A Celtic Son

  18. This morning it hit me that in framing the question we already set the answer in place. Its not a matter of ekklesia vs business, but dualistic vs non-dualistic, servant vs ruler, etc.. its a matter of dominant paradigms and who is Lord. More to say on this out of de Certeau but have to run..

  19. Yes, well, I do love to stir the pot… ;)

    While my brother, A Celtic Son, is more than capable of explaining himself, I believe what he was addressing was something along the lines of those who have been redeemed (bought with the blood of Christ) and have fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ–over sacred and secular–are careful to guard against being seduced by practices and attitude that are not Christlike. Those who are willing to embrace and utilize non-Christlike practices and attitudes have compromised the message via their medium. They have traded their Heavenly birthright for the world’s mess of power-pottage.

    The challenge, as you have said, is to identify the practices and attitudes we are talking about. I have waaay to much to say about that to clog your blog… And I realize that more and more are moving away and “starting over” with a clean slate. That is certainly what I’m doing…have to show them a better way, not just talk about the problems with the way they do things.

    And you are exactly right…there is no business/church problem, either….when we who are redeemed choose to embrace any practices or attitudes that are not Christlike, then we have, in my book, sinned–and are in need of confession and repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation…so that the Body of Christ has its wounds cleaned and dressed and healing can begin.

    What is needful is already known…but it is seldom practiced because the current organization/system is compromised and allows “lording it over” through its culture and business practices and by-laws…. And it is too comfortable to go along to get along…and ditch those prophets who are calling out “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

    The Situational Servant Leader would look at some churches around and see that the leaders are unconsciously incompetent–they don’t know that they don’t know. They think everything is okay. In that case, one must be direct and precise about what needs to be done and how to go about doing it. The problem with the un/in folks is that they are basically unable to do what needs to be done, and they are either unwilling or too insecure to respond to the appropriate leadership style. These are the one who just “don’t get it.” Like the Hobbits who let “Sharkey” take over the Shire without a fight. The only thing worse are those who have the ability but are unwilling to act on it. These are the ones who will trample your pearls and turn on you…the Saruman who will not aid Gandalf and refuses mercy and reconciliation.

    I may have to do some adapting of Blanchard’s language so that church folks can recognize themselves….add it to the pile ;)

    I fear I have waded in without thought to the members of the community and the tone and depth of conversation past…but I appreciate you willingness to let me sharpen my sword amongst you.

  20. Up in #8, Brother Maynard says:

    As with many doctrines, the Bible seems to be general and we’re specific; it seems to provide leeway but we do not. All that to say that perhaps there is no one right, proper, and absolute form or structure for the church, but instead there are characteristics to which each form or structure must hold or aspire.

    Thoughts on that one, anybody?

    And The Abbess says–absolutely right. Just as there is a basic human body but infinite variety as to those things that make each person unique, so there is to be freedom to vision form and structure for the church according to God’s mission in each place. It is the tension within the ambiguity that keeps calling people back to the safety and comfort of what is known…even if it excludes those to whom God has sent us as ambassadors! Fear of the unknown has thwarted more God-sized missions! Then there is the fear of false teaching creeping in… Yikes!

    What I am grateful for, however, are the many places where I see these conversations taking place…and I thank you, Brother Maynard, for being one such place.

    Be blessed.

  21. “As with many doctrines, the Bible seems to be general and we’re specific; it seems to provide leeway but we do not. All that to say that perhaps there is no one right, proper, and absolute form or structure for the church, but instead there are characteristics to which each form or structure must hold or aspire.”

    Posolutely.. essentially, this is the formation approach. If we are formed in the image of Christ we don’t need rules in these things, we adapt organically and situationally to the new context in accord with who we have become. Or, to use NT Wrights analogy, if the actors are properly immersed in Shakespeare and are given three acts of the play, they can work out the fourth act without any instruction because they have been formed :) Perhaps the structure question is really only a mask for the character question which starts much further down. Related: the attachment question. We become attached to structures and methods, but if we were attached to Christ adequately we would be detached from these secondary things .,,. our ego would not be invested and we would be free for the kingdom.

  22. hmmm…how much freedom can you stand? ;-)

  23. I’m totally tracking with you…but if ‘church’ is everything than it is also nothing. I still don’t get why in adapting to each an every situation (which we should) that we need to call it church. Ekklesia ‘the ones called out’; out of what, the ekklesia? When does this copy of a copy end………..
    I understand where you want to go…I do! But some of this just doesn’t make sense…if you want to see the church as a mystery then I’d suggest we not be so quick to label it as church – (…here I think or English betrays us…)
    Perhaps it’s because we differ in our understanding of the sacred vs. secular…I agree that we certainly have messed up this dichotomy…but not because this divide should not exist but instead because we have severed the right interaction between the two and objectified what each represents…there must be something that is sacred (pointing to the holy and eternal), everything else in life is transient and profane…the old cathedral down the street might not encapsulate the whole of what church is (or even a little part)…but it does point towards the eternal (the sacred)…it has meaning…and the people who gather at this place should impact the transient world around them…pointing creation to the creator…pointing the secular/profane towards the sacred…proclaiming that Jesus is in fact Lord…and that therefore isn’t. Modeling and establishing right relationships in every way (man-God, man-man, man-creation).
    I know that the church (what you’d call the ossified institutional church) has failed in genuine mission, but it does not follow that we need to make something new that fits the hole of this error…we need to repent – to renew our minds – to change our presuppositions that allowed us to compartmentalize our world in such a narrow way…how did we get to a place where we could go to church in the morning all pious and clean just to run home to watch football with a completely different frame of mind 2 hours later – what were we thinking?!
    I can’t tell you how much I love this conversation; I’m hang off your words and encouraged by your hearts – but I wish we could rise above our cultural paradigm – the system…both our business models and our churches are submerged within the same basic sea of philosophies and worldviews…we need meaning-makers, not a quick peak at the latest business trends. Or else there really is no hope that we won’t repeat the same mistake as we did with the 80’s/90’s CEO mega-church with simply a different face…it is the fate of pragmatists. – You keep changing the parameters for success only to find out that success was never the mandate.
    Come-on let’s get over ourselves…no one put a gun to our heads…we sat in the cushy seats and sang the latest tunes while the CEO pastor gave a great performance…we ate it…we liked it…and we greased the wheel. Let’s not walk down the same path with just a different name. Let’s stop being so myopic and self-conscious. I am all for missional…but it is not a ‘kind of church’…missional is what Christians do when they are not gathering at their sacred places (or place that points towards the sacred)…It is the going out to the secular and impacting it with what we have been given…it is about showing the way and proclaiming who is Lord…I personally don’t think we need to all go to church (note: I’m not an anarchist home-churchy dude)…I just think that church needs to be something concrete and identifiable…I’m not worried about where I fit in…I’m worried about ‘meaning’ and about the church’s ability to be a light-house for our society…

  24. I am there with you Ryan, and the church plant I’m visioning will not have the English name “church” attached. The problem is that this “ekklesia” term is a word used to describe the faithful followers in the New Testament. This is why we use it.

    If I may, I would suggest a book that may stretch and challenge you and your usage of this term: Paul’s Idea of Community is a book written by Robert Banks. He has a lot to say about “ekklesia” and what it means and why it is important.

    The challenge is to keep words valid and fresh. In order to do that we have to work hard to protect their context. I find, however, that people are looking for a smaller, more general vocabulary…where I am holding out for a larger, more specific vocabulary. We need the simple words and concepts for the simple things, but we dare not abdicate the complex words for the complex concepts.

    And the church–that mystery that is the Body of Christ–is not optional. If you are in Christ, you are part of the church. Either you connect up with the Body and join the dance, or you are the Lone Ranger. But even the Lone Ranger had Tonto…and let’s not forget Silver! I do love triads… ;)

    And home-churches don’t have to be anarchistic…just a brief word in their defense…

    I would say that the church, as the ekklesia, is concrete and identifiable. The problem comes when we require our definition/manifestation of its local form to be the only one that is True.

  25. The way the modern church is structured is not correct. We have pastors in chrage and on other churches there is the practice of congregational rule and many churches have become so large they are impersonal.

    A proper church structure and leadership makes use of the five~fold ministry to run the church with the apostle in charge and the other ministry gifts working together in each church

    so there may be one apostle overseeing several churches and in each church there would be a prophet,evangelist, pastor and teacher ministry gift running the church together with administration staff.

    each church would also have a team of elders chosen by the apostle

    Large churches also need to practice cell group ministry to insure that the church asa whole is not impersonal and that the leaders in each cell group are able to minister affectively to the members in their cell groups


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