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Strategies To Launch a Healthy Church

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This conversation focuses on how strategy plays a crucial role in each phase of the Church Life Cycle.

First Things First: Stop Calling the Church an ‘Organization!’

I constantly hear church leaders say, “Our church is an organism, not an organization!” I love that sentiment, but few things can or will stagnate your growth more than this sentiment

I caught plenty of flack when I led a church for some 13+ years. A pastor’s job comes with more expectations than any other role I’ve seen. My critiquers most frequently suggested, among other things, that I was too strategic and business-like. Perhaps they were expecting a “shepherd” — not the kind that fights against wolves or uses a staff, but one who sits calmly by picking flowers and petting them?

All my congregants were right to a point, though. I came from the marketplace, and while I understood our church was a beautiful organism, I also believed the organism demanded organization.

The Bodily Organism of Christ

The Body of Christ is an organism for sure. But the functions of any organism must be organized to grow and work well.

I love how Paul described the Body of Christ in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians and churches:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

The Body of Christ is like any body, composed of pieces that come together, forming something greater than their individual parts. But here’s the catch, while each believer plays a unique part in the body, the body works best when it functions most effectively.

In Paul’s letter, he talks about specific body parts, what they do, and why they are all integral to the body’s health. In a way, Paul is amplifying the organization of the body. The body, as a metaphor, gives us the necessary implications.

Imagine your body as the Body of Christ, composed of multiple parts. Healthy people have healthy digestive, neurological, cardiovascular, and nervous systems (to name a few) working together in systematic harmony. Introduce a toxin or a virus, and the system enters some chaos.

Healthy church bodies are much the same. They are collections of unique parts that make up a body. Much like a person’s body, the better organized the church, the better the body functions.

If you see the church as an organism, I applaud you. If you refuse to embrace that all organisms require organization to remain healthy and grow, I would respectfully tell you that your perspective is the lid capping your church’s mission.

NOTE: I wrote a lot more about this here: 6 Organizational Requirements Growing Churches Embrace

Incorporating Strategy Along the Church Life Cycle

Strategy is just plans and systems with an end in mind. In the case of a church, strategy is how we plan to accomplish our mission.

Church models are strategies. Every church has one, whether it’s documented or not.

As we traverse the life cycle journey, it’s evident that strategy plays an essential role in each phase. Equally, a lack of strategy and intentionality will create havoc in the cycle. The positive effects of great strategic planning affect the church uniquely in each phase. I think it best that we evaluate each stage individually and thoroughly.