The Power of Processes (part 1 of 2)
Processes in ministry. Not something we naturally enjoy thinking about. We would rather take them for granted-but that's exactly what a good process does. A good process becomes something you can take for granted. Processes are essential to the health of any church and they are the spine of any assimilation ministry.
Here is what a process is by definition:
A process is a set of interrelated activities that interact to achieve a result.
Processes are expressed through systems. Systems are not artificial:: they are what cause your body to function. Processes/systems in Christ's Body do the same. Without them, we are "dysfunctional".
Our bodies continue to live only because of processes expressed through systems:
- The Endocrine System enables the growth process and more
- The Circulatory System sustains the oxygenation and healing processes
- The Respiratory System sustains the respiration process
- The Nervous System allows the processes of mobility and sensory functions to exist
- The Digestive System sustains the digestive process which feeds the body and eliminates waste.
I believe that a core reason the church is revealed to us as a "Body" in the Scriptures is so we in leadership would know that the Body of Christ's very existence is dependent on processes expressed through systems--multiple sets of interrelated activities that achieve the results God has purposed for it.
Which leads us to this question: Why do many church bodies lack healthy processes for assimilating guests into themselves? I believe it is because we fear that having set processes in the church are....
- Organizational and not organic
- Institutional and not intimate
- Regulatory and not relational
- Artificial and not authentic
- About control and not about community.
Lets acknowledge the two reasons that processes have a bad reputation in the Church:
Reason #1-Processes are used to preserve the status quo.
These are churches that have moved from functioning like a body to functioning like an organization. While bodies adapt and respond to change, organizations do not. they exist to do what they do, the way they've always done it, which leads to the next reason we distrust processes in the Church.
Reason #2-Processes are used to filter out those who are different, not assimilate them.
Our statements of faith, membership processes and volunteer placement processes are designed to keep those who think or behave differently out, rather than invite them in, so that they can connect with us and be transformed along with us.
This doesn't mean that processes are bad or non-essential. It means we often use them for the wrong thing.
On a personal note, I am dealing with one of the first real potential health crisis of my life. I am pre-diabetic. I am feeling all the symptoms and I am sick of it. My frustration is coming from the realization that I have been misusing my digestive system and now it is impacting my endocrine system which monitors how sugar is processed with the help of insulin. I am addicted to sugar and carbs!
As I work through this, I am reminded of how the church so easily misuses its assimilation processes for conversion, membership, small group connection and volunteers placement so that it slows or halts the process of growth and wipes out the Body of Christ's natural ability to adapt to change.
We should call this kind of process-breakdown by its clinical names: Dysfunction & Disorder.
Next week, I will look at some of the processes we see in the New Testament and share the 2 characteristics that make any assimilation process organic and healthy.
- What is the general attitude of your church toward processes? Favorable? Suspicious?
- Name 3 to 5 processes that are at the core of your church's ministry function, especially when it comes to assimilating new people into the life of your church.
- Are any of these processes designed to preserve the status quo or filter out undesirables? Why would that be?
- What is the healthiest process in your church right now? Why do you think so?