One of the greatest managerial consultants of all time, the late Peter Drucker, taught me that the most important question to ever ask when evaluating an organization is this; “What is reality?” Organizations that are in trouble, or disarray, or decline, are almost always not facing reality. Until their leaders are willing to face reality, they will continue to unravel. Some will hang on in a marginal fashion, others will simply die.
The second question that Peter told me must be asked, when reality is finally being faced is this: “What is the mission?” He actually told me that this is often the harder question to answer because troubled organizations are not clear about what they are doing. They are usually doing many things that are actually working against one another. They have competing understandings of their mission alive and well inside their walls, and that impedes – if not stops – most progress toward accomplishing the mission. Clarifying the mission inside a troubled organization is never simple, but it is essential.
What then is the mission of the church of Jesus Christ? No matter how it gets phrased, I would argue that it is most centrally seen in the opening call of the Lord Jesus to his first disciples; “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” That is the mission. That is the only mission. And when the season of preparation had ended the mission was restated in our Lord’s Final Command: “Go and make disciples of all peoples….”
What would be different in any local church that took that mission seriously? Almost everything. A series of questions would have to come to the fore. Where is time being spent? Where are resources being directed? How are people mobilized to accomplish that mission? What are the results we expect to see if we are effective?
To honestly ask those kinds of questions, if there is true conviction about the mission the Lord Jesus gave to the church, is to be faced with the clearest possible evidence that there most be a change in the priorities of her corporate life. Her best energies, her best resources, and her best people are not being used to accomplish the mission. They are all almost all propping up the organizational life of the church.
It brings this question to our honest scrutiny: “Do we want to realign the work we are doing so as to more effectively serve the mission? Do we have the will and the heart to face this challenge? Do we feel the weight of the impending judgment upon those who are wasting the talents that God has given us, for the sake of the salvation of the world?
Or do we turn aside and continue as we are?
In 1991, I heard Peter declare that all the major complex organizations of the world were based on presuppositions that were no longer true. The 21st Century had already begun he said (it was 1991), and it was going to be necessary for all such organizations to be restructured or they were going to rapidly become obsolete. I actually thought he was speaking prophetically, but I did not realize it was going to effect me. I did not see.
Next Week: Who Will Repent?