The Link Between Theological Emphasis and the Organizational Structure of Faith Communities Within an Ecclesial Context: The Church (by Tonya Banks)
Churches are structured and organized differently from each other. For example, the Catholics have a well structured and defined establishment where the Pope is the head Church leader for the denomination. Issues regarding faith are funneled to him. The Catholics also believe that the Pope is able to hold such a position in that Jesus gives the Pope direct authority in ruling the people. Also within the Catholic faith, individuals must come to the priest for confession of sins. Within the Judaism faith structure is a little different, in that it is believed that individuals can have a direct relationship with God and can ask for forgiveness of sins therefore bypassing a priest. The Rabbi leader of this faith does not have the power or authority to pronounce blessing or to forgive sins in Judaism faith.
The differences between the structures for these faiths is that within the Catholic faith, the Pope and priests have the power and authority to forgive sins, and pronounce sacramental blessing on individuals, but for those that practice Judaism important religious activities can be performed within their own private houses and homes. The idea that is presented here is that one must go through a human man for redemption and the other does not therefore going directly to God Himself. Although these differences exist for these faiths can one really say that their structures are incorrect? The message here is that organizational structures within Church speak to their different views of theology as it relates to their understanding of God. In other words their religious beliefs and faiths system is different. The purpose of this article is to show that the Church’s organization structure reflects their theology and are intertwined. Organizational structure and theology are defined to show the authors presupposition.
Organizational Structure Defined
The word organization can be defined as “the acts of organizing or the state of being organized, an organized structure or whole, a business or administrative concern united and constructed for a particular end, a body of administrative officials, as a political party, a government department, etc., order or system, and method (World English Dictionary). The etymology for the word, in French is organization and in Latin, organizatio from the words organizare, and organum meaning “instrument, organ” and “system or establishment” (Etymology Dictionary). The word for structure can be defined as “mode of building, construction, or organization; arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents; a pyramid structure; a complex system considered from the point of view of the whole rather than any single part; anything composed of parts arranged together in some way; an organization (World English Dictionary). The etymology for the word structure in Latin is structura, “a fitting together, adjustment, building” and structus, “to pile, build, or assemble” (Etymology Dictionary). The idea presented here is that an organization’s structure is composed, constructed, and assembled together by particular components that make up the organization thus giving one understanding and purpose of its existence.
These organizational components can be described as vision, mission, values, goals, and beliefs. The word vision or videre means “to see”. In other words, vision is where the leader wants their organization to be in the time to come or defining what the future is for the organization. The word mission, or mittere is defined “to throw, let go, or send, or to declare”. The mission describes the purpose for the organization in explaining its very existence. In other words the question is asked “What does the organization do? Or why does the organization exist? The word values or valoir is “to be worth” or the question is answered how does the organization expect to get where they are going? In other words what will the organization do to gain its purpose for existence? The goals or goelan can be interpreted as the milestones that must be achieved for accomplishment thus overcoming any obstacles or round blocks that may come to hinder or stop the vision. Belief, or geleafa can be interpreted as faith, “loyalty to a person based on promised duty, mental acceptance of something as true, things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine” (Etymology Dictionary). The idea presented here is that the structure of any organization is based on the components of vision, mission, values, and goals. If understands these components then they will understand the belief system of the organization and for whom they are working for.
The etymology for the term theology was derived from the Greek word theologia with theo meaning god and logos meaning word, discourse, or reasoning. The term translated in Latin form with the abstract substantive suffix ia then into French as theologie then finally arrived to its English form theology. The most traditional meaning of the word is that theology is the study of God, however cannot be limited there. Theos also include the divine, gods and goddesses. Logos also includes sayings, accounts, teachings, and theories. Providing clear understanding for the word theology must be mentioned so that there is no confusion in definition.
One may think that word refers to the Bible, and that god refers to God. To make this clearer, the term theology encompasses all things pertaining to what is considered religious life thus including faith, Church, and ministry. In a nutshell theology is simply ones belief and conception about God thus can be different across various religious and societies in the world. For example, the Christians believe that God sent humans the message of salvation through His son Jesus Christ, however other religious faiths or belief systems may not concern themselves with this message but may value something else that they consider to be important for their particular faith. Basically with theology there is a spectrum that spans across borders that one must consider as they approach their study of God, thus taking into consideration varying views among others yet must be accurate, valid, moral and true according to the Christian message. With theology one is able to analyze, test, and critique various religious views thus can help one with understanding their faith, comparing their views with other faiths, and defending their religious views.
The Link between Organizational
Structure and Theology
Therefore, if one understands the theology of their faith then they should understand the Church’s organizational structure or should I say if one understands the Church’s organizational structure then they should understand the theology of their faith. With this I mean that the organizational structure for an ecclesiastical organization includes its mission, vision, values, goals and beliefs which constitute the Church’s theology. The organizational structure of an organization is based upon its mission, vision, values, goals, and beliefs.
The organization’s structure provides valuable information about the purpose and existence for an organization, thus leading to one’s understanding of what the organization stands for, strives for and for whom. These same components of structure can be found within ecclesial organizations thus understanding the purpose for the Church Organization in understanding its theology. In other words one is able to understand the mission, vision, values, goals, and beliefs for the Church as orchestrated by God.
Tonya Banks is a student at Regent University, enrolled in their Organizational Leadership PhD program with a concentration in Ecclesial Leadership. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org