This is part 3 of David Westlake’s reflections on sustaining the Christian distinctiveness of Christian organisations. You can read part 2 here.
Abiding in Christ is both a personal and corporate (or community) discipline. Individuals who are spiritually flourishing create a rich community life, and a vibrant community life encourages, inspires and equips individuals in their own walk with Christ. It is therefore important to strengthen some corporate community disciplines to help us abide in Christ.
There is no set list of what these will be, for the Spirit will ‘blow where he wills’, but I believe that we will see some significant changes in four areas:
1 Becoming as famous for prayer as we are for action
We will have an increased emphasis on prayer and intercession.
- Prayer is the place of intimacy with God, and intimacy is our highest calling.
- Prayer is our most powerful development intervention.
- Prayer is the heart of our Christian distinctiveness.
2 Increasing our emphasis on discipleship
As we become a more missional community, we will create an environment where deepening discipleship is the cultural norm. This will result in:
- character becoming the most vital element in recruitment
- the organisation becoming more spiritually vibrant.
This involves setting priorities and finding practical ways to deepen our spiritual vibrancy, both corporately and personally. It also means exploring ways of enabling the organisation to focus on spiritual transformation in the lives of beneficiaries.
We can do this by:
- creating the space to support spiritual growth and the living out of our values
- exploring the dynamics surrounding personal spirituality in the workplace, and understanding how this relates to our corporate vision and mission
- providing resources and tools that will encourage people to deepen their spiritual growth.
3 Increasing our biblical literacy
This involves setting priorities and finding practical ways of developing our ability to integrate biblical understanding into every aspect of our organisational life. Specific objectives would be:
- to identify ways of deepening our biblical literacy
- to explore ways of increasing our understanding of theological issues relevant to our organisation
- to ensure there is a clear biblical understanding of the issues relating to our work
- to increase our explicit biblical reflection on the current and emerging issues that the organisation faces
- to explore ways of enabling our practical decision-making to be more informed by scripture, so that we apply biblical truth to work issues
- to encourage staff to engage passionately with scripture on issues relating to our work and ministry.
4 Having discerning decision-making processes that integrate our mind, emotion, heart and relationships
When we make decisions as an organisation, we need to remember that:
- what the Holy Spirit doing and saying is the primary question
- we understand what the Holy Spirit is doing and saying through using our skills, professionalism, experience, relationships, emotions and hearts.
As we think about being an organisation with Christ at the centre, we may wish to ask the following questions:
- Is this the kind or organisation we want – a community more than a workplace?
- How do we work out the professional/personal boundaries in this new model?
- Where are the potential conflicts between us as a missional organisation and regulatory frameworks relating to employment, equalities and charity governance?
- Are we happy to pay the price in terms of time, money and reputational risk if we focus on these things?