Can we fulfill the mission by giving up the organization?

Resurrection Downtown

A historic church in downtown Kansas City, Mo., turned over its building to the thriving United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. (UMNS photo by Fred Koenig)

I am a part of multiple membership organizations. Each strives to strengthen its members and each relies on those members to continue the organization.

Sometimes, though, we must give up the organization in order to maintain the mission of building up the membership.

This can be seen in a variety of service and learning clubs, churches and even sub-groups within churches. When the membership no longer has the energy to maintain the organizational structure, it is better to give up the structure than to force the members to expend so much energy that they end up burning out and giving up on the mission completely.

Organizations should not expect a small number of people to do all the work of organizational maintenance, particularly when the mission of the organization is to support those same people who it is expecting to do all of the work. An organization cannot support a person, when that person basically IS the organization.

How, then, will the people find support without the organization?

Most of the organizations I am referring to have multiple branches. When one branch folds, another takes on its work.

Let those who need a break from being a leader join with another group that already has leadership. In this way the mission continues.

Of course, sometimes the next nearest organization with the same mission is far away. In these situations there may need to be more of an effort to maintain the organization.

Such an organization may be able to obtain some assistance from outside of their area, but it may also need to take a break and then re-organize at a later date.

I am in love with non-profit organizations, and I want to see them succeed in fulfilling their missions. However, any organization will fail if it keeps pushing its leaders until those leaders want nothing more to do with the organization.

How are you rotating leadership in your organization so that no one burns out? When have you made the decision to fold your group into another in order to continue the mission and support your members?

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Are Multi-site Churches the New Circuits?

Resurrection Downtown

The home of the new Resurrection Downtown. (UMNS photo by Fred Koenig)

I just read how Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv is encouraging the United Methodist Church to transform dying congregations into multi-site churches. We are already seeing that start to happen with the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection going into downtown Kansas City. This all leads me to wonder whether our technological age is enabling these multi-site churches to be the circuits of today.

In early Methodism preachers would ride on horseback to several congregations over a large area. The number of ordained clergy was so small that some congregations would only be served the sacraments four times a year. John Wesley, one of Methodism’s founders, himself was known for traveling around Britain preaching wherever he went.

Today, preachers do not need to travel to spread their message to congregations far and wide. Worship services may be broadcast instantaneously across the internet to far flung bodies of celebrants. Nevertheless, these multi-site congregations realize the importance of gathering the people. They typically have local clergy who are in charge of the pastoral care of the people and providing the sacraments on a more frequent basis than was the case in early Methodism.

This multi-site method of congregational development allows for clergy to specialize in preaching, pastoral care or other areas of ministry. Local churches do not need to be formally connected with the preacher’s congregation, but can independently conduct their own program while streaming the sermons from the well known pastor.

I have mixed feelings about this development, but I do believe it is worth exploring. Why not have multi-site congregations if they help to bring the message of Jesus Christ to more people? How would your congregation be able to expand its ministry if the pastor did not need to focus on the sermon each week?