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Purpose Driven Organizations--Culture Part One

In defining purpose, the Gallup Organization explained, “A company’s purpose is a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business.It conveys what the organization stands for in historical, ethical, emotional and practical terms.No matter how it’s communicated to employees and customers, a company’s purpose is the driving force that enables a company to define its true brand and create its desired culture.”As water is to fish, culture is to any organization--including the church.  We are immersed in culture with all of its artifacts, values, and assumptions.  Unless something happens to challenge those givens, we rarely think about the culture we find ourselves in.  For the most part, a church creates culture without thought or intention.  Stephen Blandino writes, Every organization has a unique culture, but not every organization created their culture on purpose.  Most drifted into their culture.  Unfortunately, the same is true for churches.  Cultures are simply by-products of t…
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Purpose Driven Organizations--Introduction

What drives your organization or church--mission, vision, or purpose?In the 20thcentury, most companies sought to have a clear mission statement and a clear vision for the future.Peter Hawkins stated, “A mission captures the company’s ambition, a vision shows what it will be like when success is achieved.”Hawkins argues, however, that in the 21stcentury, an organization’s purpose is more important.He defines purpose as “who the company serves and what is of value to them.” Having a purpose is much more service-oriented and altruistic.
Take, for example, two sporting goods companies.  Adidas states that it “strives to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle.”  On the other hand, Nike proposes to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”  The difference in outcome?  Nike’s market capitalization in 2018 was $85 billion; Adidas’ was $16 billion.The d…

The Mandalorian: A Theological Reflection

(Minor spoilers here.)
The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars story created for a series format and is a great success for the Disney streaming service.  Borrowing from the Western and Samurai genres, creator Jon Favreau (Iron Man films) sets the series five years after the fall of the Empire (Episode six--Return of the Jedi) and prior to the emergence of the First Order (Episode seven--The Force Awakens).
As I have noted in previous blogs, creator George Lucas intended the Star Wars universe to provide a mythology for our times. The themes he embedded in his films were primal ideas--the hero’s journey, for example.  In like manner, many observers have identified various theological concepts in these movies as well. Such ideas emerge in this new series as well.
The title character (Pedro Pascal) is a loner, a bounty hunter with a heart. The breakout character, however, is the Child.  A member of the same species as Jedi Knight Yoda, he is referred to by fans as “Baby Yoda” an…

Avoiding a Herd Mentality

In a recent blog, pastor Carey Nieuwhof cited this quote from Douglas Adams book The Salmon of Doubt: “1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. 2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. 3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
Some adult development researchers state that we tend to define “the world as we know it” based on what we experienced between the ages of 13 and 15.  This is when we are becoming proto-adults and everything that happens in our lives makes an indelible impression on us.  There is certainly some truth to this, but we must remember that we are free to accept these concepts or reject them.  They are informative but they are not deterministic.  If I was raised with a prejudice toward a particular group of people, I have the opp…

Back to Church?

In a recent blog, a noted Baptist ethicist indicated that he feels that it is time to “reopen for worship services.”He provides some significant arguments and closes with this comment: “Big picture, we are a society crippled by a mismanaged pandemic and filled with hurting souls. I think it is time for our congregations to reopen, to meet the needs of those souls as best we can.”
Although I appreciate many of his observations, I strongly disagree with his conclusion. I know that every worshipping community will make its own decision about when to return to onsite worship, but I affirm the statements articulated by the Coronavirus Task Force at First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (where I am a member):
We care for the FBC community.We care for our neighbors and the broader community.We want to protect the vulnerable.

The task force--made up of church leaders, staff, and several health care professionals--summarize what is important in our situation. They erred on the side of c…

Citizen of Two Kingdoms

“He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’” (Luke 20:25, NIV)

When I did supply preaching on a regular basis, I was often called on to preach the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July holiday.  It was a popular vacation time for many pastors.  My default sermon was built on this text (found in the three Synoptic gospels).  The role of faith (church) and state (empire) was as much an issue then as now.
My usual approach was to point out that Christians are actually citizens of two kingdoms.  One is the Kingdom (or Reign) of God which is emerging among us--almost but not yet. The other kingdom is the secular state in which we live. I always argued that both are important to believers, but we should never confuse the two and our Christian citizenship always takes priority.  
I write this, first of all, from the perspective of being a citizen of the United States of America.  In this role, I pay taxes, vote in all elections, try to keep myself …

Virtual Fellowship: CBF General Assembly 2020

I have lost count of how many Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly meetings I have attended.In the early days, I was working for another Baptist organization, so I took vacation days to attend (as did many of my colleagues).There was a certain feeling of adventure of attending then, something like Luke Skywalker joining the Rebel Alliance.Not only were we upset about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, but we sought the fellowship of others with the same convictions--people who were our friends and mentors--those we loved, admired, and enjoyed being with.
Of course, when I was coordinator of Tennessee CBF, I attended every year and found myself involved in plenary sessions, workshops, ancillary meetings, and hallway conversations. Even then, the personal conversations were what gave me energy and satisfaction.  After that season, I struggled a bit with my role in the gathering, although my congregational membership, my work with Central Seminary, and my associa…