ORGANISATION CULTURE FOR CHRISTIAN ORGANISATIONS
J. N. Manokaran
I was participating in a national event of a reputed Christian organisation having their headquarters in the southern part of India. I was disheartened, pained and disillusioned to see the lack of Christian values and ethos in that organisation. Sitting there, I started reflecting on what kind of values, practices and models Christian organisations should reflect and express.
In India, most people follow IST, interpreted as Indian Stretchable Time. A minimum of 30 minutes delay is assumed and people generally respond accordingly. There are other events like marriages or if a guest is a VIP, then it could be a three-hour delay. A VIP in India measures his stature by the amount of time he could afford to be late and keep the people waiting. The more the time of waiting, the higher is the stature, power and position the person assumes s/he enjoys. Christian programmes, including Sunday worship, should start on time. If the function is declared to begin at 9 am, then the Lord Jesus Christ would be present at the set time. He honours His promise to be present when two or three are gathered in His name (Matt.18:20). Those who arrive late, in truth disregard the Lord’s presence and even insult Him.
Christian organisations are expected to be providing excellent services. God is a God of excellence, perfection and beauty. To demonstrate Christ-likeness in the world, a Christian organisation should attempt excellence, perfection and beauty. Unfortunately, excellence is not seen as a virtue. cobwebs, rusting metals, garbage piled up, leaking taps, untidy bathrooms, broken windows, non-performing switches, fused bulbs, untidy curtains, moth or rat eaten carpets, broken pews, peeling plasters are a common sight in churches and Christian organisations.
Effectiveness and Efficiency
In the function I attended, a person was called to do the opening prayer. That person was not present. Hurriedly they chose another person to pray. This reflects the lack of effectiveness in organising an event. Either the person who was supposed to pray was not informed, or he did not turn up. The person in charge of the schedule should have verified that information before the event began. In fact, the event began 30 minutes late (the frustrated person could have left before he was given a chance to pray!).
The song was displayed as a PowerPoint presentation, which was good. However, there was a flaw. The song had five stanzas, but the PowerPoint slides had only three stanzas. The operator was trying to find the other two stanzas and, before that, the singing was over. That reflected the lack of efficiency.
Both effectiveness and efficiency are needed in Christian organisations. Some organisations have one and lack the other, and there are a few that do have both. Effectiveness is possible only through dynamic visionary leadership and efficiency through strict management.
Many Christian organisations sadly reflect the trend in the society. India is a male dominated society, and women are not treated with dignity. They are not provided enough opportunities to excel. In this national organisation, with considerable experience and expertise, women were not seen in leadership. The dais was filled with men, and the youngest sitting there was more than 50 years old. Around 20 men played important roles. At least Bible reading could have been given to a woman leader. Around the world, when women are invited to take up leadership roles, the Christian organisations are lagging behind. In the panchayats, one third of the elected representatives are women.
Many organisations and churches function like cult groups. Group loyalty and high motivation are possible in such groups/organisations. However, this is fed by the leadership showing a kind of superiority complex. This superiority complex is hidden behind the mask of spirituality. So, other ministries are seen as competitors and rivals. Instead, the Christian attitude would be to develop complementing ministries and work together in all possible areas. Only humble people can work together.
Many Indian organisations are being led by an individual and his descendants, or one language group or one tribe/caste group. many churches, denominations, mission agencies and institutions are struggling with these issues, as we see in private enterprises, educational institutions, political parties, etc. The church and Christian organisations should should be models of good governance.
Importance of Family
In the function I attended, the family was neglected. In fact, most of the families were scattered, with men sitting far away from wives and children sitting in different locations. Some people were awarded, but their wives or children were not recognised or acknowledged. It is impossible for these men to have accomplished anything without the positive contribution, sacrifice and support by their wives.
Many secular organisations do not regard the family and behave like Egyptian task masters in extracting work. It is really worrisome that many Christian organisations function like this and even encourage their men to neglect their families.
Planning is stewardship. Lack of planning is lack of stewardship. Planning is one area in which India is backward in almost all avenues of development. For example, the government plans a flyover to ease the traffic, but by the time the construction is over, the volume of traffic has doubled. Such planning is a wastage of resources. This attitude, prevalent in our society, is also common in the Christian organisations. Improper planning of resources, including human resources, has led to mediocre working of many Christian organisations.
There is a need to develop a work culture in Christian organisations – one that is based on biblical principles, Christian values and ethos that express the attributes of God. Christian organisations are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Are they?