Thursday, June 16, 2016

Baptist churches are more starfish than spider

Baptists are a leaderless movement. Churches gather into voluntary associations where the leader is elected or hired by a group of churches. State and national Baptist organizations operate that way as well. The churches themselves are congregationally led. The absence of a pastor does not destroy the churches ability to perform its mission.

In the their popular book, “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations", authors Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom compare spiders and starfish.

A spider has a body, eight legs and a head. If you cut off a leg or two the spider will survive but if you cut off the head, the spider dies. On the other hand, a starfish has five legs but no head. If you cut off a starfish's leg it will grow a new one AND the leg will grow a new starfish.

The spider represents hierarchical organizations with centralized command and control. The starfish represents decentralized organizations that are led by ideals rather than rules. Leaders emerge as influencers rather than dictators. The struggle is illustrated by the AMC series “Halt and Catch Fire” in which major corporations are losing a war with undisciplined but motivated computer geniuses.

Attempts by church groups at centralized command and control often lead to the emergence of new churches, denominations and parachurch groups. The Protestant Reformation is an example of how decentralizing control of Christianity brings renewal.

The Kingdom today represents many denominations who disagree on a number of issues but agree on the gospel's call. They operate independently toward similar goals. To that number we can add a multitude of independent churches and parachurch groups.

The Baptist Temple Campus hosts four churches and ten non profits that are independently governed but work together to meet the spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs of our community.

We share a common desire to build up the community in a way that pleases God. Each church and organization has a different mission but all share a desire to make the world better place.

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