In the last 10 years, it has not been uncommon for me to see people look at a church’s org chart and strategies and deem it corporate and unhealthy, flesh and not Spirit led. Which has led me to the pivotal question: Is it biblical for a church to employ organizational strategy and values?
Yes, it is concerning that many pastors believe bigger is better and determine success by the size of budgets. It is also concerning that many western churches value secular strategic leadership over relational shepherding from their pastors. I’ve come across churches that are more interested in pastors with a business degree than a seminary degree.
However, just because there have been negative cultural influences on the church does not mean all things strategic and organizational are unhelpful or unbiblical. It also doesn’t mean that organizational strategy forged in corporations cannot be useful in strengthening the local church.
Exodus 18 tells us Moses spent “morning till evening” handling every kind of dispute among the people of Israel. Jethro, his father-in-law, sees this and says, “Moses, you’re a fool. You can’t do this alone. You need to delegate out smaller matters and leave the major ones for yourself.” In essence he says, “Moses, you need an org chart.”
In the New Testament, we find repeated examples of strategic, organizational ministry. The apostles delegate ministry to devote themselves to core responsibilities (Acts 6). The apostle Paul strategically plants churches in cultural centers and even defines the work of a pastor as handing off ministry to those equipped for the work. The biblical paradigm of elders, deacons and members does not regulate passivity by some while others do the “heavy lifting” of ministry; rather, it provides biblical order and organization within the local church.
Jethro and the apostles knew that intentional and strategic organization in a church breathes life into the body of Christ and prevents burnout among pastoral staff.
Pastors who try to fulfill every need and task risk leading in a way that is unfaithful to their calling and may be operating out of an insecure or prideful identity that wants to find its value in the work and not in Christ. When this kind of self-idolatry governs us, we cheat the body of Christ out of her God-given joy in doing the work of ministry and growing into the fullness of Christ, and pastors eventually collapse under a weight the Lord never called them to carry alone.
There is great freedom in the prayerful and diligent pursuit of strategic organization within a church. Intentional and dependent strategy sets churches up for health and maturity while protecting pastors. Even more, it allows us to pursue the glory of God in extending the joy of Christ to our cities and the nations.