I've been reviewing the top blog posts of 2012, and this year I have decided to break them down by themes. First, we looked at the more personal posts of the year. Then, we reviewed the ones that deal with facts. Now, we turn to one of the most popular series at this blog: Unhealthy Christian Organizations. Two of those posts made the list of top posts of the year.
I decided to write about a problem I had seen in a number of organizations throughout the years-- an unhealthy culture among Christians in places of ministry. I wrote about it because I thought that it was an important issue to address, but even I was not expecting the level of response. Unfortunately, this appears to be a widespread problem.
The series was made up of three posts. The first post asked the question, how do you know if your Christian organization is dysfunctional? It was the 5th most-read post of 2012.
1. The church or organizational culture does not value those serving, just those leading and the function of the organization.
2. The leader is the only one who is allowed to think.
3. The organization or church thinks everyone else is wrong and only they are right.
4. People rationalize that the good they are experiencing is worth the abuse they are receiving.
5. People often know of the glaring character problems of the leader, but no one can speak truth to power.
6. Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others, or more.
You can read more details here.
The second post (and 10th most popular post of the year overall) addressed the question of what one should do if they are in an organization like this. Well, there are two options. You can leave or you can stay:
If you believe you need to leave, start praying and looking for another ministry opportunity. This recognition of a different future will likely ease the daily pain and struggle, and help you to face each day. When you know you are going to leave, you can deal with staying a lot easier-- and I know this from personal experience. When I have been in unhealthy situations, once I decided I was going to leave I did not worry so much about what was going on around me. Either way, trust your future to Christ and he gives peace that passes all understanding.
However, the reality is, in some cases you may need to stay.
I also talked about what you can do if you stay. You can see some of those suggestions here.
The third and final post dealt specifically with the organizations themselves:
It is about a pattern, and this pattern is both real and widespread. Some organizations really are unhealthier than others, and, unfortunately, I've seen it-- as you probably have as well.
It's interesting, however, to see "behind the curtain" of both healthy and unhealthy churches, organizations, and denominations. For example, while I was in Phoenix with the Foursquare Church a few weeks ago, I was struck by their health and sense of family. Even as they disagreed, the focus was family and graciousness in their disagreement. People were allowed to ask questions, leadership was transparent, and trust was present. Having consulted with the Foursquare for five years now under two presidents (Jack Hayford and now Glenn Burris), I can tell you they have made great strides to get there-- it takes effort to move to good health. It is not an easy process, and my Foursquare brothers and sisters would attest to that.
So, how does an organization move from unhealthy to healthy? Well, it is not simply something we can "will" into existence. Instead, it is a process.
I gave some suggestions on how this transition might happen-- you can see that post here.
This series was a tough one to write, and it was tough to see how many people have been affected by this pattern. But it was also important to talk about the issue, and I hope that some may see a change in the future to a healthier organizational culture.
Next, we'll look at a timely theme that showed up in the top blog posts of the year-- the presidential election.