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Demystifying Spiritual Gifts

quest-8-4Many of us have wrestled with questions about what constitutes a spiritual gift, what our spiritual gifts are and how we discover them. Based on Scripture a spiritual gift appears to be simply an ability or skill endowed on us by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the church family. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.)

My personal understanding from Scripture is that the Lord does not provide for us a complete list of spiritual gifts. The lists given in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4 contain both similar and unique spiritual gifts. None of these lists neatly overlap. This leads me to the conclusion that these lists provide examples of spiritual gifts, but are not intended to give us a complete inventory of them. [Read more →]

August 16, 2009   2 Comments

When the church goes corporate (part 10)

church-goes-corp-10Conclusion
In recent years many large churches have been challenged with organizational issues of a magnitude smaller churches never grapple with. I believe that many of these large churches have naively turned to a corporate or business model to try to solve their organizational problems. They reasoned, “These strategies have worked well in corporations, so let’s implement them in the church.”

But as I’ve attempted to demonstrate briefly above, corporations and churches do not share the same goals and cannot function successfully within the same model. Imagine a corporation implementing the church model in which their goal becomes building relationships, not making money. No employees are expendable. All leadership is shared and servant-based. There are no metrics, simply values. It might be fun to work in such a corporation—until the money runs out! The church model will not work for the corporation! Why would we think the corporate model would work for the church? [Read more →]

June 19, 2009   Comments Off on When the church goes corporate (part 10)

When the church goes corporate (part 9)

church-goes-corp-9Conflict
In a corporation conflict must be squelched or eliminated because it threatens efficiency and the chain-of-command. The CEO and top-down leadership model minimizes conflict because “one doesn’t contradict the CEO!” The CEO’s word goes. It’s his/her way or the highway! Corporations need not be good at conflict resolution. They simply must eliminate it for efficiency’s sake.

The church on the other hand must embrace conflict and deal with it constantly and continuously. Conflict is a given in relationships. Christlikeness teaches us how to effectively deal with conflict and grow in our relationships with each other. Conflict will be present in teamwork as well. The fact that we are to, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you” implies that conflict is inevitable and we are to become skilled in dealing with it. (Colossians 3:13 NLT)

©2009 Rob Fischer

June 19, 2009   Comments Off on When the church goes corporate (part 9)

When the church goes corporate (part 8)

church-goes-corp-8People and staffing
The corporation, whose purpose is to make money as it becomes more efficient, must view people (employees) as a resource. This is not evil, but necessary in the corporate model. Even if a company is known for taking care of its employees and providing a great work environment, efficiencies will dictate whether a reduction of workforce is necessary. A company must view its employees as a resource—to be exploited or eliminated based on efficiencies driving profits. People must be expendable in a corporate model.

Because of its focus on competition, the corporation is also on the prowl for the “best” employees. Stacking their human resource with top-notch professionals may give them an edge on their competition and aid them in earning greater revenues. Large companies spend significant amounts of time and money recruiting and relocating these best-of-the-best. [Read more →]

June 18, 2009   Comments Off on When the church goes corporate (part 8)

When the church goes corporate (part 7)

church-goes-corp-7Competitor or collaborator
In order to secure and maintain its hold in the market a company must be competitive. That is it strives to be better than its rival companies. In this manner a company unapologetically goes after its competitors’ clientele. This is how a free-market model works. But the model also drives an internal competition to outperform other individuals and departments either for the sake of morale or ladder-climbing. Again, in a free-market system this is an accepted and encouraged practice that we have grown to expect of great companies.

The church sets its sights on collaboration rather than competition to achieve its purpose. In fact, competition—whether internal or external—runs contrary to Christ’s goals and methods in the church. A church that presents a competitive front to the community and other churches will harm the cause of Christ. And competition within the church family creates division and deteriorates relationships. [Read more →]

June 17, 2009   Comments Off on When the church goes corporate (part 7)

When the church goes corporate (part 6)

church-goes-corp-6Best Practices
Another element of metrics is best practices. Corporations, driven by efficiency, constantly seek to discover best practices for a particular process. The purpose of best practices is the standardization of processes to ensure predictability of the desired results. Identifying and implementing best practices has had a profound impact on corporations’ productivity and profits.

The concept of best practices does not find clean application in the church. Identifying and implementing best practices for the standardization of processes is not a relational pursuit. Borrowing another church’s idea for expressing a value like hospitality by promoting Dinners for Eight is not a best practice, but simply a creative idea. [Read more →]

June 16, 2009   Comments Off on When the church goes corporate (part 6)

When a church goes corporate (part 5)

church-goes-corp-5Measures of success
With efficiency driving a corporation it must develop metrics or measurable factors for determining success. Metrics demand clear, documented processes that ensure success. Metrics fall into two categories: leading and lagging. Leading metrics or indicators provide evidence that we are following prescribed processes that are proven to bring about the desired outcome. Lagging metrics or indicators simply tell us after the fact whether we met our goals. Leading indicators are required for managing processes and people. Lagging indicators provide information for reporting purposes and making future decisions.

As opposed to being metrics driven, a church must be values driven. Very simply put, the church’s values are the character of Christ. Values are relational and require intimate interaction with our Lord, each other and the world. We continually strive to conform to Christ’s values. Because of the relational nature of values, success cannot be gauged with metrics in the church. [Read more →]

June 15, 2009   Comments Off on When a church goes corporate (part 5)

When a church goes corporate (part 4)

church-goes-corp-4Decision making
In a corporation decisions follow a top-down approach. At the top, the CEO makes decisions based on market analysis, past history and any other appropriate data he/she can find. The approach seeks to be objective, analytical and scientific. As the CEO’s decisions filter down through the organization they drive other like decisions. The corporation desires logical, well-supported, yet speedy decision making. In fact, the ability to make decisions quickly is often valued above having made the right decision.

In a church shared leadership seeks to listen to and know the mind of Christ in a matter before proceeding. This can feel like a tedious process for someone bent on efficiency. Our Lord is as concerned about how we reach a decision—listening to him, trusting him and working with others—as he is about the decision itself. The reason for this again is that his goal for us is that we would be conformed to his character. This is worlds apart from the corporate model! [Read more →]

June 14, 2009   Comments Off on When a church goes corporate (part 4)

When a church goes corporate (part 3)

church-goes-corp-3Leadership
Because a corporation is driven by efficiency an efficient form of leadership is needed. A chief operating officer (CEO) with a clear, top-down chain-of-command provides the needed efficiency. The CEO, with an eye toward meeting customer and shareholder needs, provides direction and sets goals for the company. From these goals and direction all departments and employees derive their goals.

When a new CEO is appointed from outside that corporation he/she often brings with them their own key staff and a shuffle occurs in the organization. One of the maladies inherent with the CEO model is the CEO’s tendency to hire leaders like him/herself. The CEO becomes the standard of leadership. Those with a variant style of leadership aren’t considered qualified to lead, so the hunt goes outside the organization for “more qualified” employees (i.e., those with a similar leadership style to the CEO). [Read more →]

June 12, 2009   Comments Off on When a church goes corporate (part 3)

When a church goes corporate (part 2)

church-goes-corp-2Means to achieving purpose

The primary means through which a corporation achieves its purpose to make money is by leveraging efficiency. The company will doggedly drive for efficiencies in productivity, quality, safety, waste, costs, etc. Taking advantage of efficiencies is the chief means for making money. The pursuit of efficiencies significantly impacts everything a corporation does.

By contrast, the chief means through which a church achieves its purpose is through relationships. This is true in terms of our interactions with God, with each other and with the world. The church (including its paid staff) is a family. In contrast with efficiency, relationships can be messy. They require love, forbearance, forgiveness, patience, kindness, and time. Generally speaking relationships are not efficient, but they extremely effective!

©2009 Rob Fischer

June 9, 2009   Comments Off on When a church goes corporate (part 2)