Organizational Care

Seth Godin, wrote an intriguing post recently about caring and organizations:

No organization cares about you. Organizations aren’t capable of this.

Your bank, certainly, doesn’t care. Neither does your HMO or even your car dealer. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to discover this fact.

People, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring. It’s part of being a human. It’s only when organizational demands and regulations get in the way that the caring fades.

If you want to build a caring organization, you need to fill it with caring people and then get out of their way. When your organization punishes people for caring, don’t be surprised when people stop caring.

I began to wonder if that is true of a congregation.  Certainly one of the confessed values of a Christian congregation is to care, to love, to be like Jesus. But what does care look like?  Here leadership is essential. Leadership within the congregation can promote a culture of care, can model what caring looks like, and how collectively and individually we care.

Pentecost by artist Jean Sader

This Sunday is Pentecost, the church holiday in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to ignite the birth of the church. Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first disciples remained huddled in a room in Jerusalem.  As described in Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was dramatic: a mighty rush of wind, tongues of fire on people’s heads, and multiple languages suddenly heard.  A huge crowd gathered outside the room, amazed, perplexed, confused.  What was this?

Here is where caring leadership stepped up.

 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd. Act 2:14

Peter took the leadership role and modeled how this new community would express itself.  He cared for the assembled crowd by telling them the story of Jesus Christ and how his life, death and resurrection had changed the world.  His words were tough at time, reminding the people of their participation in Jesus’ crucifixion.  Yet Peter, with the support of the eleven, did the most loving thing possible: he called people to trust in Jesus.  At Resurrection, we would say Peter “called all people to a vibrant life of faith in Christ.”

How does the church promote or restrict caring?

Lord Jesus, teach me to care as you cared for others.

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