Tuesday, August 30, 2011
BEST PRACTICES IN A HEALTHY CHURCH
The following was submitted to a Pentecostal Church with whom I've been consulting:
I've been asked to provide a report for the Board. I'd suggest looking at some or all of the following:
1. WHAT DOES A HEALTHY CHURCH LOOK LIKE?
100 Marks of a Healthy Church - http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8825.htm
Case-Study of a healthy N.T. church (Antioch) - http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8232.htm
Also: http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8567.htm and
2. SOME SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
2-1 JUSTICE/LOVE: These are Jesus' two key 'kingdom values' (Luke 11:42). Love is associated with a deep God-given respect for every individual; justice is the right use of power. A loving congregation will give and receive costly communications of words and deeds; a just church will ensure that the weak are strengthened and cared for. Seehttp://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/579.htm
2-2 TRAINING TO RECOGNIZE AND DEAL WITH SPIRITUAL ABUSE: See the articles on our website: use the search facility.
2-3 AFFIRMATION OF DIVERSITY: Healthy churches embrace diversity in 'non core' Christian theology and worship, while teaching and practising unity in the faith-community. See http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/2975.htm
2-4 TOLERANCE OF AMBIGUITY: Mature Christians don't need everything 'nailed down': they actually welcome new ideas. See http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/9018.htm andhttp://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/9664.htm
3. LEADERSHIP IN A HEALTHY CHURCH
3-1. EMPOWERING LEADERS don't really care who-does-what so long as God is honoured and people are given training and opportunities to use their spiritual gifts. Seehttp://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8109.htm . An important area of training involves 'How to help others' - http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8541.htm
3-2. LEADERSHIP STYLES may vary: there's consensus, tribal, eldership, bureaucratic, autocratic, paternalistic, episcopal - or a combination of these. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, the 'tribal chief' embodies the consensus of people who trust him (example: the role of James in the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15). Autocrats believe they know best: which produces problems of trust with followers. Seehttp://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8845.htm
3-3 SECURE LEADERS welcome 360-degree feedback. They want to know others' opinions and values and have multiple regular systems for complaints/suggestions from everyone. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/360-degree_feedback
3-4 ETHICS FOR PASTORAL LEADERS - One example:
3-5 ACCOUNTABILITY: In a healthy church leaders are accountable to
A Mentor - http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8283.htm
Spiritual Director - http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4825.htm
Supervisor - See the relevant section in http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8877.htm
* A key principle is that governance principles and practice should maximize the potential of the church for recognizing leaders' gifts, for tight accountability, and for empowerment of the church for ministry.
* Ministry Descriptions for Staff: these include clear definitions of ministries/roles, accountability, who reports to whom, non-abusive appraisals of progress, dismissal etc.
* Authority needs to be matched with responsibility. If you are responsible for something, you are given creativity and freedom to lead within that area (with appropriate boundaries of course).
* Baptist Churches of NZ have adopted what they call "A Principle-based leadership Model" which is similar to John Kaiser's "Winning on Purpose - Accountable Leadership Model". Check out the Baptist NZ website http://www.baptist.org.nz/default.asp?id=91
* There's a healthy move away from some marketplace models - especially the assumption of 'Pastor as CEO'. The Church is organic! See Viola's Reimagining Church especially the section about leadership and governance, and Eugene Peterson's The Unnecessary Pastor.
5. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
Jesus emphasized the care of the weak, children, the marginalized etc. These policy guidelines help us in practical ways to do this. Many Christian groups/denominations have done the work for us to be able to audit our performance in these areas of responsibility to each other:
4-1 Duty of Care: is the Church a Safe Place?
4-2 Working with children
4-4 Creche Guidelines
or http://tinyurl.com/5hxad8 for examples.
You're all in my prayers!
Shalom/Salaam/Pax! Rowland Croucher
October 2008 (Updated August 2011)