People and Process: Ecclesia

“People and Process” principles are important to Jesus. In the Body or Ecclesia, what we have come to call “church,” He has provided leadership as a means of preparing and positioning people to produce, do the “work” of ministry. This leadership, when properly functioning, prepares and positions people to work out the processes that produce the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The processes when properly functioning create a form of spiritual “perpetual motion” in that the Body “builds itself up in love.”

We seldom discuss the processes of the Body because we have nearly lost the strategy of leadership and accepted a distraction or substitution for the original design and definition of Ecclesia. So, it is difficult to find an observable, measurable, functioning Ecclesia with the fivefold ministry actually and actively preparing and positioning people to produce the ministry of Jesus.

If we could observe this original design, definition, leadership, and serving, mutual honor and connection to the shareholders (koinonia), we would be able to talk more intelligently about processes.

Let’s talk about processes anyway…there are flow charts for kingdom processes. Teaching people to operate in grace gifts without properly inserting them into the flow charts and providing leadership for the processes contributes to a charismatic Woodstock or a function of worship that resembles an attempt at “heavenly club atmosphere.”

Processes are ways of progressing, getting things to the next step, through the steps, to the end point, the desire production. Once we know the mission, we can see the purpose or end point we call “success.” Once we prepare and position people in the process that successfully produces the desired condition and outcome, we can find ways to make the process more effective and efficient.

In the Body, Jesus is the Head. This means a lot more than the top. He is the Source and Resource of leadership, coordination, and stimulus. He is the One who determines mission and defines “success” for the whole Body and the individual parts. None of the parts has the right or authority to determine its own “success” or create its own identity. And, the individual parts are only fully operational and functional as they are properly prepared and positioned to function within the whole and with other parts.

Of course, this is a metaphor that reveals spiritual principles and perspectives, and the metaphor reaches a certain limit of illustration at some point, but it is the metaphor chosen by God to explain people and process. A dysfunctional Body could point to several illustrated principles to understand its dysfunction. Jesus says He will “build” His Ecclesia, then Paul explains people and process with this and other metaphors.

If we understand a “corporation” in its simplest sense, we understand it as a body. Ecclesia is not a corporation in the legal sense of the word: we don’t get our definition of ekklesia from studying the legal term “corporation” nor do we come to understand people and process from this definition. The legal term might serve as a vehicle to carry the spiritual culture in its relation to natural culture, but the word “corporation” isn’t the source of design and definition for ekklesia. Jesus isn’t building a “corporation.”

Beware the concept, in any form, that the legal system or government of any culture can properly define “church.” When they define anything of the kingdom, they always get it wrong.

While the study of “best practices” in legal corporations can be helpful to the management of processes, we cannot reach a fuller or valid design and definition of ekklesia by the application of these principles. We could certainly learn a lot from Disney about creativity, crowd management, customer-centric business, and customer satisfaction. We could certainly learn a lot about managing complex processes that must meet the highest tests of operation and function from NASA. We could certainly learn a lot about information gathering, processes, and reporting from IBM or the NSA. We wouldn’t be one smidgeon closer to the original design and definition of ekklesia by doing so, however; because the people and processes of the Body might be better served by improving the vehicle they operation and function in, they would not improve the people and processes of the Body itself.

Beware this application of “excellence” to the ekklesia. The Body isn’t more “excellent” because it has better fireworks, information processing to accommodate thousands of customers, or a PA system with fail-safes that guarantee no microphone feedback. The “excellence” of the Body is the “excellence” of the people and process that produce God’s goals. The rest is a vehicle management discussion: a great car doesn’t turn the driver into a saint.

Beware the assumption that people who are successful in the natural order will make “good Christians.” They won’t be better saints because they operate at high levels in the natural order unless they operate at high levels in the spiritual order. Being a successful salesperson in the natural doesn’t immediately produce a great evangel in the spiritual because the measure of recruitment isn’t the same. The person certainly has a created disposition at the base of this success, but the Ecclesia builds a spiritual operation and function upon this created disposition, and that person, at the time of their spiritual birth, isn’t far ahead of others in this operation and function because they are a great salesperson in the natural order.

In other words, if we don’t get discipling right as a kingdom preparation process and kingdom leadership right as the strategy of Jesus to prepare and position people, we won’t be doing “church” in a way that will produce what the Head wants.

Our tendency to miss these points leaves us with a sterile “church” that is good at accumulating believers or people but poor at maturing them. Since that is our present condition to a fault, we need to fully reexamine our approach to people and process and make radical adjustments. We nothing short of a full kingdom reset.

Consider that, at present, we have major leadership dysfunction. A vast ocean lies fallow between two extremes: systematized church-anity that fits people into a natural order corporate environment and a poorly linked counter culture of people who have no preparation or positioning to produce God’s purpose, people who attempt to operate as believers without proper connection to the Ecclesia. We have overt corporation defined as “community” and overt individualism defined as “organic” or “simple.” At each extreme there are 47 flavors, but the foundation of each is consistently dysfunction from Jesus’ point of view. We have people at one end that would recognize God’s voice if He spoke, and people at the other end who insist that “if God has anything to say to me, He’ll tell me personally.” Both extremes are rejections of the original design and definition of “ekklesia.”

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