The small group sat around the room discussing options for the future of their church. Seven men and women representing the 35-37 remaining members of Ho-Hum Ecumenical Church (or HEC). Though the church had run well over 300 in attendance each Sunday twenty years ago, the facilities now look like an outdated, well-worn overcoat with the current congregation. Today’s discussion, like many others over the past few years centers on trying to resurrect old events and programs that were used in the church’s heyday. An hour and a half later the meeting is dismissed with no decisions made. The only plans for the future are to keep meeting on Sunday morning as always.
A scenario very similar to this plays out each week in churches across North America. In time many of these churches close their doors, leaving no Christian presence in the community, no legacy that a church ever existed – except for the empty buildings. Churches and other establishments get so caught up in past exploits and observances they do not realize the self-inflicted Organizational Strangulation.
Three elements are needed for any organization to remain healthy and avoid Organizational strangulation. Faith (inspiration), Fellowship (communication), Service (action).
Faith – complete trust or confidence in someone or something most often grounded in spiritual apprehension, not proof. In the business, world inspiration takes the role of faith. Faith or inspiration gives individuals the desire to invest in moving forward without full evidence of what the future holds.
Fellowship – the friendly association of people with similar interests joining together in the community. In the church and business world, the strength of fellowship is determined by the depth of communication. The more people of like interests communicate with one another the closer the bond of friendly association.
Service – the act of helping or assisting others. To act or to take action is to engage in some behavioral deed. Service is one person engaging in some behavioral deed on another’s behalf.
The New Testament church of Jesus Christ cannot exist without faith. Faith is a preeminence of existence for the church. No one alive today was alive when Christ walked the earth. Therefore, we rely (by faith) on what has been handed down to us in written and oral form.
It is our common interest of faith in Christ that draws us into fellowship with one another. The more time we spend relating to each other, the closer we draw to one another. The more time we spend together relating to God’s Word and His directives for our lives, the closer we draw to God as individuals and as a community of believers.
True faith and fellowship in Christ cannot exist without acts of service for Christ, on His behalf to others around us. Many churches live today on a pseudo faith; a self-styled faith. It is a faith derived by our own measure, not the true Word of God.
This pseudo faith is then connected to friendship instead of a realistic fellowship. Today’s fellowship is based on our own level of need and desire – if and when it suits me.
When pseudo faith and me-friendship co-exist true biblical service is seldom present. In these churches when true service does exist, it is usually by accident when it is thrust upon us, not us seeking service.
The members of any organization must work together to strengthen the faith which in turn leads to inspiration for accomplishing God-sized results. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, living together with one another’s best interest at heart. Acts of service come from a heart to help others. Determine this week to change the culture of faith, fellowship, and service in your organization. Otherwise, you might find yourself in one HEC of a church.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.