Monday, July 07, 2008

Companies offer unlimited flex and vacation time with accountability--what about churches?

A recnnt Business Week article highlighted a growing trend in businesses against fixed amounts of vacation time and scheduling. Bluewolf, an IT consulting firm, allows employees to take as much vacation time as needed, and allows employees to work whatever hours desired--so long as they meet certain performance expectatations.

See http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jul2008/sb2008072_456680.htm?campaign_id=rss_smlbz.

Churches need to take note of these trends. The idea that leaders dictate all of the prescribed, "official" times to meet and all of the offficial ministries is rather archaic. Churches instead ought to offer multiple schedules and encourage members to start ministries on their own. However, loving, mutual accountability is necessary in this.

For instance, members could be expected to do three things each week--worship, Bible study, and outreach. However, these could be accomplished in many different ways--in a small group, in a discipleship triad, in a Wed night assembly, in a Monday Night for the Master, in a neighborhood get together, etc.

What do you think of Bluewolf's policy? Would this approach work in churches? Why or why not?

9 comments:

Garth said...

I think if people have a sense of ownership, they perform well.

Why would we want to squelch someone's spirit by trying to control what God has set their heart to do?

Now with that said, I still think the elders should be made aware of those activities that the members have decided to pursue. How else can they make petition and shepherd?

Good activities can't be hidden anyway!

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that this is the second time in 24 hours that I have heard this same or similar sentiment voiced. While I understand—I think—what is prompting the question...that is, ’how can we reach more people?”...I can’t help but wonder why we want to look to business innovation or the denomination down the street for ways to bring people to Christ.

We know that it is the message...the gospel...that brings people to Christ....not programs or meeting times, etc. Some will respond....some won’t....it is the ‘soil’ that the seed lands on that determines the yield...but I think that you are talking about the sower’s time here.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t see this as ‘either/or’. We need to meet together—“the assembly”—for the various reasons mentioned in scripture...AND...we need to be active in our own personal worlds during the week, meeting together in the smaller groups and activities that you mention.

A question comes to mind....could it be that it is all the time spent on “official ministries” that have been developed through the years (combined with over-scheduling our personal lives) that keep us, as individual Christians, from reaching out to the ones we come into contact with each day?

Maybe all these official ministries aren’t so archaic as they are ineffective.

James said...

Garth,

Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of Spirit quelching over the years. The book of Acts shows that it is the Spirit who is directing events and opening doors, with the church following in his wake.

Acts also records, "4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went" (Acts 8:4). Members did not need to get permission to preach the word.

I suppose I would rather have a church where there is so much going on and so much initiative being taken that it cannot be fully known or controlled. As my elder friend John says, there are few things that are done by well intentioned Christians who love God that cannot be corrected.

If church leaders are serving others, praying for them, and providing love and encouragement, there is little that members will not listen to.

Train, empower, and release the people of God! And provide loving accountability through relationships.

James said...

To our anonymous friend,

The worship assembly is probably the least flexible of times, since the best and fullest expression of worship is with others. Even here, however, we need to remember that in the New Testament, we read of the church in a certain city meeting in multiple house churches (Rom. 16).

As to looking towards business practices or denominations--my point is not that a business does this, therefore it should be done. I am pointing out where the culture is, as evidenced by this business. Cultural analysis is entirely appropriate when determining methodology. Paul took a different approach in presenting the gospel in Thessalonica before a primarily Jewish audience than he did before the Greeks in Athens (both methodologies are found in the same chapter of Acts, Acts 17). And Jesus says that sometimes the people of the world are wiser than God's people.

There are all kinds of business things that I would not want to imitate. I am with you there. This thinking probably influences us too much. At the same time, I do not automatically discount something because it is found in business practice or is found in a another religious group. Saying something is "Catholic" or "Baptist" or "Church of Christ" does not make it right or wrong--all practices must be examined against Scripture.

As to overscheduling people with "official" activities--I think that this is often the case. And the balance of our official activities is overwhelmingly inward focused.

Anonymous said...

My concern is that we have been committed to the schedule and not always to Jesus...and/or His model. Living for Jesus is a life style not a set of rules and/or times when we meet and do church. As an example, instead of being obsessed with meeting three times a week, maybe one or two of those times need to be used to adress outreach...the park, my neighbor, Starbucks with my bible. I feel that we have fallen into the 'drawbridge mentality' too much. We have a whole lot of 'lights' coming to the building regularly instead of balancing the times when our lights should be in the market place.

jv

Anonymous said...

You need to read lesson 4 and the addendum to lesson 4 at this site:

http://www.christcenteredlessons.com/word-of-god-versus-words-of-men.html

Your thoughts are way off base

Garth said...

Christ Centered Lessons (since you posted anonymously), I am not sure I get your point. Did you mean "WRONG!" as your posted link repeats over and over?

Now, I think there are some excellent points made in Lesson 4 and even the other lessons for that matter.

But ... if I am in the ballpark, I guess I want to ask for meditation and discussion on this question, "How much rationalization is required to make our worship truthful?"

Shouldn't worship in spirit and truth be more as a result of God's working through us, than some over thought process or checklist compiled by a man or men?

For example: I ended up in the hospital's emergency waiting room during our elder's call to gather this evening. So, I missed Wednesday night service.

The reason I was there is entirely the result of God's working in my life. I worshiped.

Eventhough I didn't specifically reference a single scripture to verify that I did it correctly. I worshiped in spirit and truth. I am confident on that point. God had me worship as He perscribed me to. He said, "Tonight Garth, you will do exactly as I want from you." And ... I did.

Upon reflection, it was pleasurable and enjoyable too.

Does that make it "WRONG!"?

Winkie Bear said...

Garth, I really find what you are say to be true. As you were leaving the church facility tonight to accompany the poor, hungry and frightened man who had collapsed in front of the church building about 45 minutes before services, I was thinking to myself how pleasurable it would be to not have to accompany a stranger to the hospital! The pleasure was truly in staying behind and going to the Wednesday night service and not taking someone whom Jesus might have helped or healed to a much dreaded emergency room. But in some bizarre twist...I can definitely see how God was working through you and you did 'exactly' as He intended for you. You loved someone as much, if not more than, you loved yourself.

So, from a self focused point of view the pleasure would be to stay at the church service and to NOT be the Good Samaritan. From a Godly focused point of view you did exactly as He wills. You were the Good Samaritan. That is truly pleasing. No, that is ‘Well Pleasing’. The Pleasure belongs to the Lord, not us.

The aroma of that ‘pleasingness’ was most possibly for the intention of this posting thread. How incredible that you had that experience tonight! Wow!

James said...

Garth,

I was speaking over at the Waterview Church of Christ last night, so I did know about this. But thank you! You showed love and compassion to a total stranger--there are few acts as selfless as this.