EP 144 – SPIRITUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH
Well, welcome back Bootcampers to the newly minted and freshly labeled, “Leading National Podcast” the Replant Bootcamp. We’re fresh off of the SBC annual meeting and happy to jump right into some great content related to Organizational and Spiritual health of the church.
Here are some of the highlights of this discussion, we’d also love to hear from you. Be sure to drop us a line, email or voice mail your comments.
Church health and Organizational Health
- Why are numbers not a good metric to determine church health?
- Church health and organizational health are two different things but they do influence each other.
- Organizational health does influence and is influenced by church health (and vice versa) but they are not the same thing.
- Church health markers
- Love, unity, and maturity
- Love, unity, and maturity are rightly pursued and promoted from the platform and the table ministries (mentioned last episode).
- Love, unity, and maturity result in the Body of Christ loving each other well in biblical community and loving their communities well through gospel mission.
- Love, unity, and maturity
- Organizational health markers
- Decentralized leadership (Team)
- De-personified alignment (Mission, vision, values, strategy throughout the org. not just lead pastor)
- Dependable resources (finances, facilities, personnel, systems, and processes)
- Don’t confuse having a healthy organization with having a healthy church. The org is only scaffolding for the body, like a trellis is for the vine.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp, Bob. I hope you’re ready for the next episode, post SBC and for all of our SBCs that had such a good time in Anaheim in California. I just wanted to, to call out something from the book of reports. Cause I know you guys are, are, are really wanting to dive back into that.
But, Bob pointed out to me, me, me and Bob in the boot. and we’ve made it, we’ve made it to the big time. I mean, I don’t know that it could be any bigger than the book of reports for the Southern Baptist convention.
Bob Bickford: that’s pretty. That is pretty big for, uh, Southern Baptist Jimbo and to be named in there. And I think not only the bootcamp, but I, think our names are in there. Are They, not?
JimBo Stewart: they are. I’m gonna read to you the excerpt page 97 of the book of reports for the Southern Baptist convention, 2022 in Anaheim. Says replant team members are featured on two of the listen to this leading national podcast on church [00:01:00] revitalization and replanting. That’s it? It would is we can quote that we should put that on our website.
We are one of the leading national podcast for church revitalization, replanting, mark Clifton, and Tom Rainer have a little podcast you may have heard of called. Replant and revitalize. but then, and I quote and Jimbo Stewart and Bob Bickford with the replant bootcamp
there we are page 97 of the Booker reports.
So next, if, if we run into you boot campers and you, I’m sure you carry the book of reports with you at all times, we’ll gladly autograph that section, for you just turn to patient 97, we’ll put our little herbi Hancock on it for you.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo, can you, can you wait just a second? I need to update my LinkedIn profile to leading national podcast. man, LinkedIn, you know what? LinkedIn is Jim.
JimBo Stewart: I, I it’s, I struggle
Bob Bickford: It’s basically, I don’t know if [00:02:00] you’ve ever heard of this. Some of the older listeners will understand what I’m talking about. They used to do this thing called who’s who in American high school students or something like that. It it’s basically the who’s who among American high school students. So the teachers would nominate.
Kids that were, you know, good grades or leaders or something. And then you would pay to have your name placed in this hardbound book among the who’s, who of American high school students. And I don’t think anybody besides your parents, maybe you ever looked in that book cuz Jimbo. It never got me any scholarships and it never opened the door.
I never even got like a free cheeseburger from McDonald.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, Nope, Nope. Now I’ve heard of, some people have used LinkedIn to get, job interviews and
Bob Bickford: It’s like Facebook for business people. I think.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. It’s like a business E Facebook, so we can go update our LinkedIn profile. It’s a quote, 2 20 22 book of reports, page 97, leading national podcast on replanting [00:03:00]revitalization. I’m glad the fledgling, replant and revitalized with Tom Rainer and mark Clifton got mentioned too.
need all the,
Bob Bickford: Yeah, it was nice.
JimBo Stewart: they need all the publicity.
Bob Bickford: It was nice. They put them in there. They got a little podcast going on over there. So
JimBo Stewart: Well, man, I’m so excited to be here with you, virtually in the studio, the bootcamp studio, to jump in and dive into the, to the topic for this week. One of the discussions that. We had in the hallways, cause my favorite part of any sort of convention like that is the hallway conversations and something that came up several times in conversation was how do we define church health and some have heard of our conversations about, church health.
Markers being love unity and maturity. And we’ve had some conversations about that. And I, I made a comment, to a guy in, in the hall one time where I said judging a church’s health based on its attendance and finances would be like going to the doctor for your annual checkup. And I’m [00:04:00] asking you how much is in your bank account and how many Twitter followers you have?
Bob Bickford: word. And. I think a lot of people measure the wrong things and put success, the weight of success on the wrong
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And, and here’s the thing I don’t wanna diminish. cuz I think they do correlate. I think they influence each other. cause let’s say if. you have little to no money in your bank account, and you have little to no meaningful human interaction and relationships that will no doubt end up affecting your mental and physical and spiritual health.
Right. And so, so it is important. To your physical health and mental health that you manage your finances and such that you can buy food and you can have a roof over your head and that you have meaningful human re interactions with, with real friends and real relationships that does have an effect, but.
They are not one and the same, they are not [00:05:00] the same thing. And certainly your Twitter followers, or your Facebook friends list actually has no bearing whatsoever. and doesn’t correlate whatsoever to your, to your health. except for maybe negatively, if you put too much of an emphasis on social media.
Bob Bickford: yeah.
JimBo Stewart: And so I’m just saying in the same way, I think I’m not gonna say that those numbers are not important. I just think we’ve gotta. We need to clarify the conversation a little bit, that there’s a difference between, church health and organizational health. And we have to understand that really we’re talking about, and we brought this up a little bit and last week when we talked platform and table and, and much like platform and table, this isn’t completely fleshed out was the conversation we’ve been having.
And I wanted to have it. And I just wanna give a shout out. We, we did get some feedback from platform and table, that even helped us clarify it further. And so, man, that’s more than welcome. If, if you’re listening to this and you think of a way to help this be clearer and better, please shoot us a note.
Let us know how we can say this [00:06:00] better as we’re trying to figure this out even more ourselves. But, but if you look at, If you are in an institutional church, so you’re not in a house church, right? So if you’re in a house church, then I really don’t think we have to worry as much about the organizational health pieces, right.
We’re just doing, discipleship, reading the word, praying together, in, homes. And, and that’s a different conversation, but if you want it to be a house church movement, then you do have to add some organizational pieces to. But the organizational pieces are unavoidable. If you’re in an institutional church, if you’ve got a building, if you draw a salary, if even if it’s a meager salary, if you, if the pastor is paid anything, then you are in an institutional church. and if you want that to organization to be healthy, then you have to understand there’s a difference between the sustainability and health of the organization itself and the health of the body of Christ.
Those are not the same thing they do court. They do influence each other. [00:07:00] If an institu, but go back to the, the annual checkup analogy, just like not having any friendships or not having enough money to take care of myself would affect my physical and mental health. If an institutional church is having lots of money troubles, attendance troubles that can end up becoming a stumbling block.
For the spiritual health of the church as well. So they do correlate and influence each other. Organizational health influences and is influenced by church health and vice versa, but they’re not the same thing. And I just think it’s really important that we clarify that.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I agree. I I’m, as you were describing sort of the organizational systems, uh, or, or markers of health or lack of health that can show up on a church’s radar, I think there’s some underlying. markers that organizationally we don’t pay attention to that lead to lack of organizational health and a lack of spiritual health, one of them being communication.
Right. So I think that, [00:08:00] churches, churches make some mistakes, like a declining church. Is everybody knows everything and everybody’s gotta know everything in order for the church to move. And then for the body to have a sense of unity and et cetera. And that’s not a sustainable model, right? That means you’re gonna have a smaller church model that everybody’s gotta be on the decision.
Everybody’s gotta know what’s going on. Everybody’s gotta have access to all the information, that sort of thing. Now it is healthy and helpful for church members to, to get information. About the church and for there to be transparency regarding things like finances and, you know, et cetera. And it’s healthy to have systems in ways that church members can get to know those things right.
And that they can participate in, in giving feedback, or even at some point making, uh, decisions. But oftentimes a church will show signs of a lack of. That precede, that actual lack of health. So like, like just say, well, we’re just not healthy. We’re not unified. Well, why aren’t you unified? Right. Well, let’s, let’s dig into that.
And so a [00:09:00] lot of our guys, when they first get into a church symbol, I think one of the things you have to do is they have to go exploring to see where are the layers here of, of health, spiritual health, organizational health. And then what do I need to peel back to understand like what’s caused these sorts of things.
So there, there have been some, some instances like. When I’ve been sick. when I, particularly, when I got COVID the first time, one of the things that would was very, challenging for me, health wise was I had a significant lack of sodium in my diet or in my body, in my blood, right. My body chemistry.
And that made me feel really, really bad. So, you’ve just gotta go on a search to understand, like, how do I understand the health of. Church, organizationally and spiritually. And it may not be as apparent as the symptom
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm mm-hmm . Yeah, I think it’s important that we dig down into those things and we, we just identify which avenue we’re looking at things, when we’re [00:10:00] taking a holistic approach like this, are, are we looking are when we’re talking about things, are we talking about the organization or are we talking about the body?
and, part of why I think this is important is far too often. We begin the conversation. And in the conversation with organizational health markers, right. And so we’ll say, well, the church is in decline. And what we mean when we say that most often is, there are fewer people attending. There are fewer people giving, What we’ve talked about is, and we all recognize this intuitively.
I think we all know that there’s a kind of a messiness to that, intuitively, but we just don’t really know how else to measure or, figure those things out or diagnose. And so we just kind of stay in that lane. Now, the other side of that is sometimes we’ll have people say, well, let’s not worry about those numbers.
Let’s just ignore all of that because that’s not how you tell if a church is healthy and I would, I would say, yeah, you’re right. that may not be how we can tell if a church is healthy, but we are. We do have [00:11:00] a, a responsibility to steward the organization that we’ve chosen to, to have as like a trellis or a scaffolding for the body.
and if we wanna completely disregard those things, then really the only way to do that, faithfully, I think is to go to a house church model. I am not against the house church model at. I think even then, like I said earlier, at some point in a house church model, you have to decide, are we just staying in my living room or is this gonna be a house church movement that expands into others?
And then we do have some organ, some organizational, not as much, but some organizational things we have to figure out. and so. Just be careful not to immediately determine good or bad health of a church just based on finances, just like a doctor. Wouldn’t ask me my bank account for my physical checkup.
Cause that’s not his goal. Right. His goal at that point is to figure out my body. Now, if my body is horribly unhealthy and it’s clear, I haven’t showered in, in weeks. And there’s all sorts of things going on. [00:12:00] Then we may need to ask questions about like, Hey, do you have a roof over your head? Do you have enough money to eat?
Do you seem malnourished? You seem right. then we start, we start to figure out the structural pieces that are leading to me being that. At unhealthy, physically. So we, we have discussed and we’ll discuss more, just a reminder, the, the three kind of markers of church health of the body. And these are the ultimate goal.
This is the fruit. This is what happens when we abide in Jesus is love unity and maturity. and we’re gonna, we’ll dive more into those things, love unit, but I, I just wanna say this where I move on to organizational health markers, love. Unity and maturity are rightly pursued and promoted from the platform and the table ministries, like we mentioned last week.
So that’s the pulpit, that’s discipleship. that’s your website. That’s communicate all these things aligned, in really. A healthy [00:13:00] body. Everything is aligned towards these three towards producing fruit in love, unity and maturity, maturity being, becoming more like Jesus and bearing the fruit of the spirit and unity being unity in Christ, not unity in all things, but unity in Christ, because there does need to be a diversity of our people.
Based on our community, uh, which is another, which we’ve had those conversations with Dr. Casey Williams and Dr. Josh Dreyer and Dr. Keel and cook. and you can go back to those, but love unity. Maturity are rightly pursued and promoted, both from the pulpit, the platform and the table, discipleship and relationship, but love unity and maturity also.
If, if they’re pursued and promoted, rightly they will result in the body of Christ loving each other well in biblical community. And I that’s where I would point to like the one anothers in the scripture, is how we would see that that would be the fruit of that. And the fruit of that would also be them loving their communities.
Well, Through gospel [00:14:00] mission. This is where our boss, mark Clifton often defines success as a community. Uh, a culture of making disciples that make disciples that make the community noticeably better. That’s making the community noticeably better through being on mission with the gospel. So that’s the spiritual health aspects of it.
And we’ve gotta figure out together collectively as a body as, as like the capital C church. I think we’ve gotta work on. How do we identify and diagnose those things more, love unity and maturity, and let that be the definition of ch church health, for the body cuz the organization just hypothetically Bob, the organization and I’m in Florida.
So this isn’t super hypothetical. This happens a a, a hurricane can come through Florida and your organization, the, the, the building at least may cease to exist. That can happen pretty quickly, in Florida. and all of a sudden there is no building, right? [00:15:00] And then let’s say, let’s say the government decides, you know what?
You can’t be tax exempt anymore. We’re gonna take that away. That ha let’s say that happens one day. All of a sudden you can’t afford the land because the land taxes are too much. So you gotta sell the land and you’re not a nonprofit. And so you dissolve the institution. So you, you could dissolve as a nonprofit.
But the body still exists. So we, we have to make that distinction. But if you’re in an institutional church, there is an organization that you’re running and there are health markers for that. So here’s what I would say. I wanna, I wanna list these three and then let’s dive in wherever you wanna dive in deeper Bob.
So I would say to me, the three markers of organizational health is. Decentralized leadership. In other words, it’s not all in one person. We have a healthy team leading this. Now that team may almost entirely, we all lay people. I’m not talking staff. So don’t, if you’re solo staff by vocational and you [00:16:00] hear this and you get stressed out, I still think team organizational health leads to sustainability.
If you get sustainability means if you’re the lead pastor and you get hit by a truck, you die tomorrow, it can continue. Well. And so you need a team. The leadership has to be decentralized, not all on your shoulders. So decentralized leadership with a healthy team. Second would be personified alignment, meaning that the mission, vision, values strategy of the organization do not just come from the brain of the lead pastor.
but that team and it’s personified in the body, not just in the pastor. and so we get to a place where. We are clear on who we are and what God has called us to do in our community. And the people of our church are clear on that. So they’re clear on the mission, the vision, the values, and how the strategy flows out of the mission, the vision and the values, or any other words you wanna use to describe that [00:17:00] mission clarity.
And then the third would, I would say, would be dependable resources. So this is finances. In a healthy, what we’re pursuing healthy organization, meaning they’re dependable, meaning it’s not just 8% of your church. Attenders are, are your giving. Right. But it’s kind of, it’s kind. It’s diversified amongst the membership of giving in a faithful and dependable way we can pay the bills.
We’ve got enough. We’re doing what we need to do. Your facilities are in a dependable shape. Your personnel, whatever staff you do have paid or lay is dependable and, and good. You have good systems and processes. That and policies that are making sure that things run the way that they’re need to run in, in a good healthy organization.
You’ll have these three things, decentralized leadership through a good team, personified, alignment, and clarity amongst everyone and dependable resources that are [00:18:00] sustainable. Now, if you could have all three of those, not as the. Or is the marker of church health. What is the marker of organizational health with the understanding that the organization is only scaffolding or trellis for the vine and that the vine is the body.
In love, unity and maturity, meaning as they end up on mission and in biblical community. Now we’ve got something that is not only healthy, but sustainable and, as an institutional organization, but it’s all, but it’s, we’re always gonna be tempted to just focus our measurements on the organizational health pieces.
And so I don’t wanna throw those away. I just think we have to delineate those from distinct, make those distinct from church health.
Bob Bickford: Sure. It’s, it’s easier to measure the organizational health markers, particularly the resources, right? With finances, [00:19:00] facilities, personnel systems, processes. And it’s easy for us to give attention to this, cuz that really doesn’t take, it doesn’t take, so much of a spiritual meant, you know, or a mindset, right?
This is money. It. Chairs, it’s paint. It’s all of those sorts of things. It’s, here’s how to request to use a room. So, those are easy things for us to focus our attention to, the, the deep personified alignment. man, that’s, that’s a hard one to get to, to a place where everybody is like, it’s not just.
deacons who are leading the church and saying, what goes, it’s not just the pastor, it’s not the deacons and pastor constantly at war, right? It’s this idea of we’ve all come together around a communicated vision that we feel like we prayed about and the Lord has spoken and we’re aligned by behind that.
Right? It’s not us. It’s the Lords, right? It’s not this per one. Person’s. And so I think. For our, for our boot campers who are maybe in year one, man, they might be getting towards that at the end of end of year one, maybe year [00:20:00] two and three. I, think going in to the church, you need to really put down some, some effort to get there as soon as you can, because people have to align by.
Around something that’s beyond themselves. Right. That’s beyond survival. That’s beyond thriving that, there, that, leads to thriving. That’s beyond just what I want a preference or something like that. So I think that happens. And, I love the, decentralized leadership team approach, but I think one of the, that for me, just thinking through my.
experience as a re planter Jimbo. I think I started with working on the spiritual thing, spiritual, unity, and preaching and. Trying to in every committee and every leadership, exp conversation, et cetera, really trying to work that in. And then I really went from the bottom of your list up like dependable resources de per de personified alignment, and then decentralized team.
I couldn’t get to the decentralized team until we laid those other two down. In terms of [00:21:00]foundational. So, you know, if you’re a bullet point person and you’re reading the list from top to bottom and think, okay, I gotta get decentralized team. Well, probably you need to have dependable resources before then.
Right? cause your leaders are gonna need to have, resources gonna have alignment and then you can begin to give them the freedom and the grace and the permission to move about, and lead. All the, while you’re doing work to develop the health of the church spiritually. So I think when you, when you look at this list or when, when somebody looks at this list, I think they could get overwhelmed in terms of thinking, well, how do I do the spiritual and the organizational simultaneously?
Because I don’t think you, there’s not a linear deal, right? It’s not a start here. It’s a both. And it’s like a juggling act, right? You’re doing all of it together, all at the same.
JimBo Stewart: That’s part of what makes this so much harder today than it was 60 years ago, right? At 60, 70 years ago. at least in most church life, there was a lot of this stuff was kind of decided for [00:22:00] you. Right. Like if you started a church 65, 70 years ago, well, man, you, you kind of knew what, the alignment looked like there Wasnt.
Varied opinions and versions on how that played out outside of denominations. It means if you wanted it done differently, you just went to a different denomination
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm
JimBo Stewart: but within your denomination, it was like pretty monolithic. If you went from a church in one city to a church and another city that kind of, I mean, at least in Southern Baptist life, they were using the same bulletin.
They were using the same, you know, like calendar, I mean, Yeah, architecture. Yeah. I mean, so much of that wa done kind of easy button and you didn’t really have to think through that. and so now, now you as a pastor, You really are responsible for leading the organization and the body and understanding that those are really kind of two different lanes.
Now [00:23:00] the goal in a perfect world, we can get those aligned and everything is in its right right place. But even that’s a daily struggle. That is a, I mean, this is not what I’m talking about here. I’m codifying. A massive amount of work into, a 25 minute podcast episode. and so don’t hear me say, oh, this is easy and this is what you need to do.
I, I’m hoping that it’s just at least helpful to start structuring and reminding ourselves because the temptation Is often to just focus on one to the neglect of the other, whichever one you focus on. Right? Sometimes the temptations go, all I’m gonna do is worrying about us being spiritually healthy.
And if you’re just gonna pick one, pick that one, right. And that’s what we say. If you’re just gonna pick one, pick the body health
piece. Right. and I would even argue that biblically right. Pursue first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and he’ll take care of the rest of the things, but we’ve also been called to steward what we have.
and you, if you [00:24:00] wanna debate whether we should have institutions or not, that’s another conversation, but if you’re in an institutional organizational church, you are responsible to steward. Well, what you’ve been given. You’ve been given a building and a budget and all the different things that come along with that.
And so, as you do, just make sure that you don’t only focus on one lane of this, to the neglect of the other and make sure that organizational health stays in its right place, that it is scaffolding its trellis for the vine. and we need. as we, if we have it, we need to steward it well so that it serves the body.
And not that the body serves the organization. And so often. If we just focus on organizational health, what’ll end up happening is the bodies is there to serve and sustain the organization. And that’s, that is not what, where we need to be. And that’s honestly the attitude of a lot of dying churches and we walk into them, right?
Their concerns are [00:25:00] organizational health concerns. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough people. And really that’s a shift we’ve shifted at that point. And so we’ll talk more about this in another episode, boot campers mean we’re talking to you and we would love for this to be a conversation.
and so as you have questions, clarifications challenges, you wanna push back on what we said, we would welcome that. you can engage us on all major social media. You can email us. There are all sorts of ways you can contact us on the website, as well. We would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on organizational health and church health?