In my transition from local church leadership to Denominational work I’m posting on Thursdays for my leadership article revisiting a letter my Dad wrote in 1981. So far I’ve considered his advice on spiritual coolness, and getting out of touch.
This week we’ll look at the third portion of this letter–which reveals a temptation to think about the growth of my denominational department in ways that might not be healthy:
I can see how this temptation would grow. For those of us from the local church–we’re used to actually seeing the church grow or not grow with our own eyes. It would stand to reason, then, that when working denominationally we would want to see results before our eyes. However, I agree that such a temptation is a false measurement. In fact, swelling the size of our denominational departments could in fact draw more heavily from the local church in terms of finances–and could in the end actually hamper true church health and growth, by being an undue burden. I’m glad that my denomination has in fact diminished the size of its central leadership over the last few decades–not growing it. Perhaps my Dad’s perspective won out there in years past.
I don’t feel as convicted about this part as the others–as the new watchword of the day is streamlining and lean management along with an empowerment model that is pushing responsibility closer to the local church. I will resolve not to get focused on the wrong numbers. It can become easy to compare departmental numbers–to look at the size of offices, staffs and budget as natural growth. Instead–we must be working together to look at the local church and how the denominational leadership is empowering them to grow. That’s the philosophy I see at work already–but I resolve to hold that line.