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:

Part 3 by Keith Drury – Thinking Departmental Growth Equals Church Growth

3. To be deceived into thinking that departmental growth equals church growth. In the local church it was easy to measure your own effectiveness. More people got saved and came into your church, and your budget went up. If you are not very careful, you will bring that same mentality into the International Center and apply it to departments. You will tend to assume that you are being successful if you have more and more people working for you and your budget is increasing. This false notion of church growth is prevalent among all denominational headquarters systems. It results in a gradually growing bureaucracy where each departmental leader measures his success by the size of the budget and the number of staff working for him. If you are not very careful you will fall into this trap. Keep in mind that the only kind of church growth there is, happens locally. Our entire purpose for being is to serve and support the local church as it grows.

Response: 

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.

Resolution:

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.

 

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