Professional Development and Church

I was rifling through this weekend’s mail when I ran across the most recent newsletter/mailer from a denominational organization of which I’ve been somehow connected for a long time. There’s a state meeting coming up in less than a month and then the national meeting/convention/assembly this summer. Both were prominently displayed.

I like conferences/workshops/professional development opportunities so I thought I’d check out the planned events. There was basically the usual type of list of options–only a few of which appealed to me. Most of them related to social justice kinds of issues. Shocking, I know.

As I kept turning pages to see what else was going on in the life of this organization, I came across a racial reconciliation workshop (a very good thing) separate from the events mentioned above…and a seminar on governance for church. Topics to be covered include policies, decision-making, defining clear roles and authority, and basically having a positive business model for your church.

And my stomach churned.

Certainly, I have been part of many congregations who function as businesses. And many of them do reasonably well with that model. However, the further I get from that model and the more I hang out at my church–which in no way operates as a business–I can no longer fathom churches operating as businesses. Mainly because I can’t stand the idea of faith and spirituality as commodities to be bought and sold.

Church is a body of people who recognize their place within that particular body. If an individual doesn’t fit in one place, he or she should move on until finding the right fit. This is not a numbers game. This is about developing unique communities of faith who are healthy and function in a way that brings peace, justice and love to the here and now. THAT’S how you stop micromanaging, how you define roles and make decisions. And you don’t need a seminar for that.