3 causes for process breakdown in your church (1 of 3)


The human body is equipped to do some remarkable things, especially when one of it's processes gets interrupted.

For example, the process of pumping blood throughout the body (made possible by the circulatory system) can creatively handle a certain amount of clogging and disruption of blood flow. What happens when an artery gets blocked is a phenomena called "collateral arteries". These are arteries that almost miraculously appear, grow, and create a natural bypass of the clogged area to keep blood flowing. It can keep a heart healthy, except during prolonged periods of strenuous exercise. 

The Body of Christ is equipped to do some remarkable things as well when processes and systems get disrupted.

"And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all." -1 Corinthians 12:6

Because the church is described as an organism in the New Testament (not an organization), it shouldn't surprise us that when a process get interrupted in the body of Christ, collateral arteries appear to get the job done. For example:

The process of becoming a member: If there is none, or the process is too artificially rigorous for individuals to jump through all the hoops, people just start functioning as members "collaterally" in various capacities (See The 2:47 Factor), apart from being officially recognized. 

The process of becoming a volunteer: If there is no clear organic path to serving, many times people will jump in unofficially and become temporary (collateral) sources of service to meet a basic need in the church. Their name may not even appear on any roster or org chart. 

The process of becoming a leadership: When a ministry team loses a leader, others will naturally fill certain aspects of that leadership roll to keep the team functioning.  Even when a church loses a preacher, elders and other respected teachers will step up (or reach outside the church) to bring in needed teaching until a replacement is found. 

I could go on, but I think our minds can think of multiple scenarios where bypasses are often found so the a process can continue to function for the sake of the ongoing health of the Body. These collateral bypasses have two limitations:

1. They are a secondary system compensating for a primary design failure.

2. They are only temporary solutions until the demand on the body is more than the bypass can handle.

Unlike the physical body, the body of believers does not always experience disruption due to blockage. Most often in the church, the failure of a necessary process is caused by a vacuum. There are 3 kinds of vacuums that lead to process failure that I see too often in churches:

  1. A vacuum of leadership. There is no one overseeing and protecting the vitality of a given process. Learn the 2 things that make a process healthy by clicking here.

  2. A vacuum of identification. There is no recognition that the problem is a systemic one. Learn the 2 things that make a process unhealthy by clicking here.

  3. A vacuum of Ignorance. There is a lack of knowledge about what the process is, so the body as a whole is having problems working it.

"Unlike the physical body, the body of believers does not always experience disruption due to blockage. Most often, the failure of a necessary process to the health of a church is caused by a vacuum."

When one of more of these 3 vacuums exists, a new condition takes up residence in the ministries of the church, a condition that slows down the overall functioning of the Body, even though collateral arteries have bypassed the vacuum. It can even, in some cases, become lethal to the survival of the church 

My next post will talk about what this condition is specifically and give you 4 symptoms to see if your church has it and to what degree. In the mean time, ponder or discuss the questions below: 

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  • How is the Church like the human body (an organism not an organization)? What evidence to you see of this? How would your thoughts as a leader or as a team be different if you understood your church in this way?

  • Share a time when you saw a "collateral artery" bypass a vacuum or blockage in the ministry of your church. What happened? Was it a good thing? How long did it last? Too long, not long enough or just the right amount of time?

  • Is there a process breakdown somewhere in your church? If so, which of the 3 vacuums is causing it?



Greg CurtisComment