#ChurchTrending: From Corporation to Locally Owned, Part One

November 18, 2014 | By: 0 Comments


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Like most Protestant mission leaders I work in an office environment, complete with cubicle farm in which managers generally get fixed-walled offices and others work in movable, partial walls. It is a relatively efficient arrangement and mirrors the corporate headquarters of most for-profit organizations. In fact there is much in the Protestant ministry world which is a carbon copy of the capitalist corporation. For some the adoption of a commercial, corporate organizational form is simply contextualizing to our capitalist culture. But I wonder if the Protestant church and mission world has crossed a line from contextualization to syncretism.+
The Rockefellers, Carnegies, Morgans, and Vanderbilts were early architects of American Protestant institutions, and they designed and ran these ministries under the paradigm of a commercial corporation. It was the organizational structure which made most sense to them. Gather investors, appoint a board, hire executives and run a ministry like a business. To this day, the American 501c3 non-profit organization is patterned after a for-profit corporation. The fact that we use either the “for-profit” or “non-profit” designation for nearly all organizations tells you something about the centrality of the commercial, profit-centered business in defining nearly all human organizations. Organizations are labeled by their relationship to profit. We generally would not think of describing non-profits as human flourishing agencies and for-profits as non-human-flourishing organizations.+
But we are more than the businesses we have become.


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