Volume 2, Issue 2, February 1995


Our Canadian society, along with much of the world, is experiencing a paradigm shift in the patterns of organizations and their management. Most churches are involved in varying degrees today in attempting to re-invent their programmes and structures.

George Parsons of the Alban Institute, Washington, D.C., visits many church groups and tells them how organizations have a life cycle that from time to time must be renewed or reactivated.

He points out that an organization begins with a birth, must survive infancy, gains strength, enthusiasm and energy in its adolescent stage, and in time reaches its prime. Its focus is now upon serving.

As the organization matures its administration becomes strongly co-ordinated. The organization likely becomes inclusive, aristocratic, and bogged down by bureaucracy.

The next step is the death of the organization, unless it changes its ways and outlook. Actually, at this stage the organization usually suffers chaos and confusion. This is seen in the churches today. Many cannot understand what is happening to them.

The secret is that amidst the chaos a new birth must be activated or death will overtake the organization. The new birth will be reliant upon the post-modern ways of communicating information and sharing relationships. The new techniques are quite different from the old.

The emerging post-modern denomination works through coalitions and networks, assumes a skilled constituency, and responds to a diverse membership.

The call to reform must recognize also that our problem is theological at heart. Dr. Paul Tillick, theologian, once explained: "A theological system is supposed to satisfy two basic needs: the statements of the Christian message and the interpretation of this truth for every new generation. Theology moves back and forth between two poles, the eternal truth of its foundation and the temporal situation in which the eternal truth must be perceived."

This can be an exciting time for Christianity. As Albert Schweitzer declared: "What has been passing for Christianity during these 19 centuries is merely a beginning, full of weaknesses and mistakes, not a full-grown Christianity springing from the spirit of Jesus."

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"Religion NOW" is published in limited edition by the Rev. Ross E. Readhead, B.A., B.D., Certificate of Corrections, McMaster University, in the interest of furthering knowledge and participation in religion. Dialogue is invited and welcomed.