Organizational Resistance And Partnership

Over a decade ago, church leadership and management theory experts Norman Shawchuck and Roger Heuser were challenging church leaders to change their organizational designs for the sake of stewardship.  With the idea of being exemplary stewards with the abundant gifts given to every believer, the hope is to ensure there is a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for outcomes at all levels of the organization.

This of course wasn’t a revolutionary thought, as a few years before, ministry leader, Loren Mead discussed in his book, The Once and Future Church, about how the old Christendom paradigm was passing away…yet nothing was set in place to replace it.

So why the continued resistance towards this organizational change, clinging to the old bureaucratic structures?  Shawchuck and Heuser give us three reasons:

  1. Bureaucracies are almost impossible to change, and those that do change usually must come near to the brink of death before doing so
  2. Bureaucracies leaders love their position on the top, and will exert every effort to stay there
  3. The pastors and members at the local level, executives at the judicatory level, and officials at the national level are accustomed to their position in structure; old habits are hard to break. (Managing the Congregation, 184)

Despite the resistance, Shawchuck and Heuser still push for an organizational design that they simply titled “partnership.”  The hallmarks of “partnership” follow:

  • Absolute Honesty-complete disclosure in conversations, reporting, etc.
  • Straight Talk-non-embellished words, with actions.
  • The Right to Say No-everyone has a voice, but doesn’t mean you get your way.
  • Joint Accountability-no one person is to blame, as all are responsible having leaders no longer act like parents.
  • No Promises of Security-everyone is responsible for the outcomes, so there is no security in being a passive observer assuming goals will be achieved.
  • The Elimination of Status Symbols and Perks-parking spaces, plush offices, titles, etc.
  • The Exchange of Purpose-every person has the right to know the truth and form the vision.  (184-187)

~ by Dave Smith on March 1, 2010.

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