Advent Devotional 12/11: Getting Organized
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” (1 Corinthians 14:33, NIV)
I heard about a church sign that said something like this: "Hate organized religion? Don't worry, we're not that organized." That could probably describe many churches, including ours.
When I was younger, I had a typical Generation X mistrust of bureaucracies and organization. I was inspired by church movements that claimed the church was an organism, not an organization. In fact, my desire has long been to be part of a movement of God in my generation.
I admit, I still agree with much of that thinking. I think the church is hobbled by structures and systems that no longer serve their purposes. I think we can get slowed down by bureaucratic red tape. I agree that the community of Jesus Christ is more of an organic community, a "body," rather than a mechanical one.
And yet, organization is necessary.
When the early church began to grow, it became more difficult to organize the distribution of food aid to widows (Acts 6). The apostles tried to handle the situation, but they did not do a good job. Widows were being neglected. What's more, they began to neglect the ministry of preaching and teaching God's Word.
The solution was an organizational one. They appointed seven wise leaders to manage the distribution of food. This freed up the apostles to focus on preaching, teaching and prayer. At the same time, the food was distributed fairly and no one was neglected.
A community that does not have a strong sense of mission and unity does not need strong organization. Being a loose-knit network is enough organization for hobbyists or social clubs. But the more defined and high-stakes the mission, the more organization is needed. When lives are on the line, such as in the military, organization and good order are a matter of life and death. The different parts need to know exactly what the goals are, how they are going to achieve them, and who is going to do what, when. A lack of organization can introduce confusion, inefficiency, and ultimately, failure.
It's been said that the church does not just have a mission, it is a mission. And the mission we have/are is the most important one imaginable. Our mission is to make Jesus known so all people can believe in him and follow him to eternal life.
The 4th step of the 8 Step Plan is to "Get Organized." This is not organization for organization's sake but for the mission's sake. We don't want to be organized in an ungodly way, out of mistrust and a desire for control, but in a healthy, spiritual way. We want our organization to be spiritual and our spirituality to be organized. May we be a church that is so sensibly organized that people would sense that there is divine order at work in our community.
Lord Jesus, you are the head of the church. You have given Kardia gifts of leadership and organization, but we have not fully tapped into these gifts. We have yet to fully coordinate and organize ourselves for maximum impact.
We believe you are calling us in this season to raise our level of organization. We believe when we do this, we will be more effective in fulfilling your calling upon us.
We pray for divine wisdom and order to be established in Kardia. Equip the leaders of our church to mobilize our entire community to push together for the work you have set before us. Help us to put into place sensible systems and practices, free of unnecessary bureaucracy. Help us to plan, communicate and coordinate better. Remove inefficiencies. Root out ineffective habits and practices. Make us willing to do things differently for the sake of fulfilling your mission.
As we become more organized, let us become better witnesses of your word. Let our organization be spiritual, and let our spirituality be organized.
In your name we pray, Amen.