Someone has said that you can have organization without being an organism but you can’t be an organism without organization. You have to admit that the human body, a living organism, does have organization. This post will just scratch the surface on the kind and level of organization within the human body using the Bible. From this, we’ll see that we do need some organization in the church.
But, it is one thing to provide some organization and another to function like an organization. As the Church of God’s design, we must function like an organism. To prevent organization from becoming an end in itself we must consider two factors:
- First, who determines how the church should be organized?
- Second, for what purpose should organization be a part of the church?
In this post we will look at the first question, the answer to which becomes obvious in Scripture paralleling the Church with the human body … living organisms. I want you to pay particular attention to the highlighted phrases as we consider ways the human body exhibits organization.
- The parts of the body are strategically arranged to function in the best way.
“God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Cor. 12:18)
— Note: God determined how to arrange the parts.
- The body has structure with each part having a specific function to fulfill but all get their messages from the head (brain).
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Rom. 12:4-5)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all . . . (1 Cor. 12:27-28a)
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:11-12)
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:15-16)
— Note: Everything we are and do as individual parts and as a whole flows from Him and is because of Him and for Him.
- The body is a coordinated whole with the parts being interdependent.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12)
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor. 12:18-21)
— Note: Every part is a member of the Body of Christ, representing Him to one another in ways that He deems best.
Looking at the highlighted text, you’ll note that God is the one who determines what organization is needed in HIS Church. Our task is to figure out how God is working and join Him in a cooperative way that lines up with His plan.
Too often organization within the Church becomes an issue because the structures are man-made rather than God-determined. Or, perhaps we started under His direction but we try to hang on to something after God has moved on to something new. One quality of an organism is that it constantly changes. When our organization becomes an end in itself or we get stuck in traditions or old ways of doing things, it is very likely we are no longer functioning like the living organism that we are made to be and so we become dysfunctional.
This post is included in the Steering the Church Toward Body Life Leadership Guide along with some questions to ask about your church in light of these truths.