download two lovers It seems there is a fair bit of debate around the place about how an organic missional church ought to be structured. Some favour a totally unstructured ‘relational’ network while others may desire a more substantial structure. I’m no expert, but I have been thinking a lot about it over the last few weeks. Here’s a summary of my thoughts”
I am a fan of structure – I believe things fall apart without it, but different sized organisms require different levels of complexity in structure. And as organisms change and grow, the degree of structure needs to change with them.
Perhaps if we take our cues from the organic image we can see some helpful analogies.
A single celled organism is obviously very simple, (nucleus, ribosomes etc) whereas a human body (4 trillion cells?) is a totally different proposition. A body of this size has a highly sophisticated structure, yet is it is still completely organic. Have a think about the various systems necessary to make the human body function – skeletal, respiratory, circulatory etc. If these structures weren’t in place the body would be an absolute mess!
Healthy organisms seem to have structures and systems that suit their size and stage of life.
Perhaps what we need to consider is an ‘organising principle’ for structure. What determines why we structure the way we do? In many of our churches our structures have been in place so long that it’s hard to ever know why things are the way they are. I could write more on this but it’s not really the point.
My suggestion is that the organising principle around which we structure our churches is that of mission – that we form up flexible, functional structures in response to the mission that we are engaged in and then adapt them as we need to. If we keep the missional agenda central then we are less likely (but its still possible) to get caught up with the bureaucratic nonsense that we have all experienced and more likely to what best serves our calling.
It means the questions we ask are different and the shape we take will also be different.
But we will have some structure” It is essential to life.
Just another thought” In reflecting on the cellular image, I find it interesting to see that the DNA is located in the nucleus – which then gives ‘leadership’ to the whole cell – and ultimately (if it is healthy) leads it to multiply. In our setting it is analogous to the DNA being located in the key leaders – them being the ones who own and embody the vision and values more than anyone else. Its not a perfect image but there are some good parallels!
What do you think?