November 29, 2014

Jesus Holds A Business Meeting

Last week, Adam Palmer sent me a series of tweets he had received from our mutual friend, Mark Riddle. Here are just a few.

*Did Jesus always pray before his staff meetings?

*I’m guessing Jesus’ administrative assistant was tough to get past.  I’ll bet she protected him well.

*And then Jesus said, “Go into the world and cast my vision.”

*Then Jesus sat down with his exec team & said “What are your measurable goals for this year?”

*Then Phillip said to the Ethiopian, “When you get back, find some big dog power brokers in your church & get them on board with your vision.”

*And then Jesus said,  “Let the children come to me, because  if you get the kids, their parents will follow.”

*Then Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, but stockpile canned goods because the world will end soon.”

*When they gathered in the upper room for supper Jesus said, “This is my brand, created for you. Share it where ever you may go.”

Mark Riddle is a consultant to many pastors and churches in the country, primarily in the area of youth ministry. He has heard it all, and then some. Mark thought he would have a little fun and imagine what a business meeting with Jesus and his disciples would be like. Welcome Mark, and enjoy.  JD

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said and his disciples did.

Some time later, eating around the campfire debating with the disciples how many lumens the moon produced, Jesus had an epiphany. This would be a remarkable way to get his message out to the world.

“You will be my executive disciple team,” he said.

“Peter, I’m making you my executive pastor, and on this staff structure I will build my church. Peter, keep the vision and cast it often. Make sure the other disciple leaders align and build their ministries around it.” Then, in the sand, Jesus wrote his mission, vision, and values statements. Judas took lots of notes.

Jesus looked at Matthew. “I’m making you the business administrator of my ministry. We’ll be launching a building program soon for satellite campuses all around the world to maximize our impact.”

“Judas, please file our 501(c)3 paperwork. We need to be compliant so that disciples who give to our ministry receive their tax deductions. We all know this is key to sacrificial giving.”

“Phillip, please start a missions department. Once people begin attending our regular gatherings they can go and serve.” Then he added to everyone, “Service is important, people. Make sure you give back.”

“Nathaniel, I’ve saved the most important job for you. You’ll be the youth pastor. There isn’t anything more important to my ministry than youth ministry (remember what I’ve said about millstones?). When we gather, take the kids away from the adults so they can be noisy. We all know that they have unique needs and the ministry must be age appropriate.

“Remember this,” Jesus affirmed, “the Gospel has levels of age appropriateness.”

“Nathaniel, I want you to look to the current trends in youth ministry in the temple and the marketplace and adapt them. Weigh the pros and cons of attractional versus missional ministry. Look at the statistics, surveys, experts, and best practices of others to shape our youth ministry. Coordinate with Phillip on youth missions trips. Stay compliant with Matthew’s policy for keeping food and drinks out of the upper room.”

Jesus continued, “When it comes to the ministry’s donkey, you’ll find it………….. Nathaniel? Was your hat on backward when we started this conversation?”

“The name’s Nate, yo!”

“Since when?”

“I need an assistant.”

“I just gave you the job. How do you need an assistant?”

“Look, you want me to hang out with the kids, that’s my job. Every youth ministry expert tells me it’s my job. I’m a relational guy. It’s my gift! I can barely return a phone call, let alone organize a ministry. I need an assistant.”

“You have a $300 smart-phone”

“It’s all about relationships, Jesus!”

“Were you just saying my name, or swearing?”

“Um…”

Jesus turned to his executive leadership team.

“Remember, team. You are leaders. Cast vision. Go into all the world and bring them back here to our services so I can save them. Amen?”

“Amen.”

Jesus could tell they were getting excited about the vision, so he continued. “We’re here to make disciples.”

Peter held up his sword and yelled, “Yes we are!”

Jesus frowned and said, “That’s the wrong great commission, Pete. We’ll not compel them to belief with swords for at least a few hundred years.”

Dejected, Peter put his sword away, hung his head and kicked a little dirt with his sandal.

Jesus continued with his energized speech. “We’ll need a worship leader. Who’s up for that?”

“I am,” said a voice.

“Who are you?” asked Jesus.

“I’m Bartholomew. I’m one of your disciples,” said Bartholomew.

Jesus looked puzzled.

“You told me to follow you?”

Jesus, saving face said, “Sorry, I meet a lot of people, it’s hard to remember everyone’s name. You know how it is. Right?”

“Sure, I guess,” whispered Bartholomew.

Jesus turned to the other executive team members. “Who’s responsible for assimilation? I need a way to keep track of all these new faces!”

Bartholomew chimes in, “I play the electric lyre and I’m pretty good.”

“Ok,” Jesus concedes. “Meet with Matthew for all the appropriate personality testing to see if you are a good fit to be on the executive disciple team, then we’ll have a try out to see if you can play well enough to lead.”

Bartholomew looked confused.

Jesus continued, “You don’t talk a lot while you lead worship do you? I have a pet peeve regarding worship leaders who chit-chat when they have a mic.”

“We should coordinate our calendars,” Matthew suggested, changing the subject. “We don’t want all the stuff we are planning to overlap.”

Jesus sat back and watched with pride as Matthew led the staff meeting with efficiency, never varying from the agenda.

Jesus ended this first staff meeting with a prayer. “Father, help us change the world. There are people out there who are hurting, wounded and in need of you. Guide our ministry so we can impact the world with your good news. I pray that people come to our service this week. That you’d be preparing their hearts, even now, to come to our new building. I pray that they would become tithing disciples who give to us so we can fulfill the ministry you have given to us. May you expand our territory so we can impact this evil culture for you.”

Amen.

Comments

  1. Breathtakingly brilliant.

  2. Classic.

  3. Wow. Just wow. This strikes way to close to home to this youth pastor in seminary, yo!

  4. I didn’t laugh as much as stare in awe of this piece’s brilliance.

  5. This is what it has come to be. Someone save us!

  6. Rob Grayson says:

    Ouch.

  7. Jack Heron says:

    I can’t understand how I haven’t linked to this before, but I don’t remember having done so:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i32312ExBZA

  8. I don’t know whether to laugh or groan. I do know that those are meetings I’m going to stay away from! I hope I can still meet Jesus somewhere else . . .

  9. Should all human management and organization be dropped from the church, with all church property sold? I ask it as a sincere question.

    • Joe, no of course not.

      However, the necessary organization and administration of the institutional aspects of church should be dealt with in theological context and not in a way that indicates total sell-out to cultural mores.

      • The Previous Dan says:

        I agree, but it is easier said than done. There are so many opinions on what that looks like. Everyone starts with Acts 6, but it gets pretty fuzzy after that. Especially since our populations are larger than theirs, both in the church and the surrounding city. More people = more necessary organization. Which is actually a good argument for smaller churches.

        • Which is actually a good argument for smaller churches.

          Exactly.

        • I think you will find the per-capita organizational needs are higher in small churches. Besides Acts 2 comes before Acts 6, and they added 3,000 in that one day alone!

          • I think you will find the per-capita organizational needs are higher in small churches.

            How so Michael? Would you expand upon that for me?

            Tom

          • OK, upon doing some more reading, I may need to back off on my original though a bit. According to an excellent article by Tim Keller, the very large churches require the same sort of per-capita organizational needs as small churches.

            The larger the church, the less its members have in common. There is more diversity in factors such as age, family status, ethnicity, and so on, and thus a church of 400 needs four to five times more programs than a church of 200—not two times more. Larger churches are much more complex than their smaller counterparts. They have multiple services, multiple groups, and multiple tracks, and eventually they really are multiple congregations.

            Also, the larger the church, the more staff per capita needs to be added. Often the first ministry staff persons are added for every increase of 150–200 in attendance. A church of 500 may have two or three full-time ministry staff, but eventually ministry staff may need to be added for every 75–100 new persons. Thus a church of 2,000 may have twenty-five staff.

            The article is in fact very good about talking about why different sizes of churches require very different leadership and communication styles.

            http://theresurgence.com/files/2011/02/14/Leadership_and_Church_Size_Dynamics.pdf

          • So, the larger the congregational size over 200 the MUCH greater is the need for organizational control/management. And, when it’s all said and done a very large congregation is in actuality “multiple congregations”.

            A bit of information I recall from my IC days is that 200 members is about tops for a “typical” Pastor to be able to manage (with the help of other part-time managers). In my experience it would seem to me that there should be an elder/pastor/leader for at least every 50-60 community members.

            In my house churching experience there should be a Spiritually mature couple for at least every 20, though 15 may be more doable. Ideal situation seems to be a group of 15-25 who are age and experience diverse who are willing to “minister” to each other and at the same time tow along the novices in the Faith and those who are suffering.

            Tom

    • No. But when it becomes the main thing, the driving force and the thing to which all are servants, it usurps the place of Christ and his mission, and love and grace can get lost real quick.

  10. Hilarious! And the application to the Gospels is so evident!

    Strategic change implementation – Luke 22:35-36 “35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

    Leveraging transferable skills as small business owners into career change – Matthew 4:19-20 “18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

    Networking – Matthew 4:21-22 “21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

    Use of headhunting for recruitment – John 1:45*46 “45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.””

    :-D

    • Amusing piece…..

      To me, the juxtaposition of American Evangelical church-planning ideas and the names of the Apostles and the Lord is quite telling, because we know that HIS meetings looked and sounded nothing at all like this.

      Blessedly, looked nothing like this!

  11. Ouch. I think I might’ve said one or two of those things, especially the part about chit-chatty worship leaders.

  12. LOVE IT!!!! LOVE IT!!!! LOVE IT!!!!

    I wonder how Baartholomow sounded as he played “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”….

    So how would this Jesus lead a business meeting in a missional and reformed context?

    “John, I need the staff to draw up membership covenants, I’m turning all dictatorial power to my dictator in chief Mark Driscoll”

    “Luke…we need to get tough on discipline…no questioning the Pastor. The Bereans are the real problem here. They need to understand that I hate the people in the United States and when I send a tornado it is to punish them for their sin. If someone challenges me….take the shot gun, grab the person and take them out back. It’s my way of the highway… Make sure the local authorities don’t find the body”

    “Luke…you got it wrong dude! When I wept for Jerusuleum it was because I missed the MMA match. I wanted to see Phil the Eunuch beat the stuffing out of Neil the Samaritian… I can’t weap…the gospel is masculine and real men don’t cry. Come on..let’s find someone to beat the ^&%$ out of!”

    “Mark!! You missed my command for large regional conferences! I need to brainwash the flock!! What the …? I need my homeboy in Seattle and his sidekick in Minneapolis to sell as many books as possible. THAT’s what the good news is about!”

    I can’t think of anymore…..

  13. I personally am a HUGE believer in organizational efficiency. It’s just that it’s not exactly our highest calling. Sometimes this means to an end becomes somewhat of an end itself.

    Oh, and Simon the Zealot should have been the worship leader. Wouldn’t he naturally be much more contagiously enthusiastic?

    • I agree about organizational efficiency. But I also believe in the power of language. We must not sacrifice our distinctive vocabulary.

      When people visit our churches and when we talk to each other it should be about the Body, not the skeleton.

      • …but that would mean loving people more than ideas! Ideas are so much… safer… to love than people; they don’t complain or betray, they’re always there, and they’re quite under our control, subject to our whims. X-p

      • But is there not a place for translating the concepts of the gospel into modern business and organizational language? An incarnational ministry means translating the gospel into the language people know and understand, and not just the language, but the thought forms behind the language, as well. While we find the first disciples were Hebrews and thought in Hebraic thought forms, the early church soon translated the gospel, not only in the language but in the philosophical thought forms of the Greeks and into the worship forms of the Romans. Perhaps if those Herbraic disciples had an Internet Monk, they would have laughed when someone sacrcastically rendered Luke 2, “Jesus was born by hypostatic union in Bethlehem of Judea”. I do believe you are correct that we must be intentional in such translation, as the early church was, and be sure there are gospel concepts being translated and not simply modern concepts being substituted.

        • In my opinion we do enough of that naturally simply by virtue of living in a different culture. Most of what is presented here is “leadership-speak” that represents the intentional adoption of cultural principles without regard to the consequences.

    • humbled by the responses so far. this was fun to write. I actually have quite a few of them. As far as organizational efficientcy. If you mean something like elegant solutions in organization I may be with you. Simple solutions to complex problems etc. But I’m not a fan of efficiency being a dominate value for church staff and their meetings. efficiency is the enemy of community.

      mwr

      • Well, I’m not sure if the creation and fostering of community is something that is possible to systematize, whether efficiently organized or not. I said I believe in organizational efficiency, but as a matter of faith more than sight. I’m sure it’s possible, but don’t come inspecting any of the organizations I belong to! :P I believe it is possible, I can at least say that for sure. Whether it is helpful for building community depends. As a dominant value I’d agree that it is not helpful. However, I’m not sure if efficiency at all is harmful to community. I can’t help but think in some instances it can actually be a catalyst for it. Some of the strongest communities I have been a part of have been pretty ruthlessly organized. The organization wasn’t the main focus, but you definitely had people with those skills doing that work. Frustration stemming from disorganization can also kill community. I’ve said it before; the only thing worse than organized religion is disorganized religion.

  14. Susan N. says:

    This is comically but tragically all too true. To laugh or to cry, that is the question!

  15. What we really need is non-stop 24-7 prayer to awaken the cities and bring revival to the people!!

  16. Jeff and Adam! thanks for sharing this!

  17. “Every church became a theatre, where orators, instead of church teachers, harangued, caring not to instruct the people, but striving to attract admiration, to bring opponents to public scorn, and to preach only novelties and paradoxes, such as would tickle the ears of their congregation. (28) This state of things necessarily stirred up an amount of controversy, envy, and hatred, which no lapse of time could appease; so that we can scarcely wonder that of the old religion nothing survives but its outward forms” – Benedict Spinoza, from “A Theologico-Political Treatise”.

    (This problem has been around for a long, long time.)

  18. Skye Jethani just posted an interview where Jim Gilmore urges pasters to STAY AWAY for his business seminars.
    http://www.skyejethani.com/coming-soon-exclusive-interview-with-jim-gilmore/1223/

  19. I really enjoyed the truth in sarcasm here. And can picture Jesus smiling as well as shaking His head watching it all go down. Thanks for the good laugh this Friday. I’d rather laugh than ‘or else’ any day!!