This is the question that is on my mind yesterday and today. In my mind, I see a distinction between the two. A community is a group of people who have a common interest. That’s a basic definition – one that I’m sure needs some work. It’s pretty broad.
An organization is also made up of a group of people who have a common interest, but there is some kind of structure which makes the organization actually exist. Again, not a great definition.
Maybe I’m struggling with this because I’m struggling with the definitions.
What I hear, time and time again is the idea that the church is a community of believers. I agree with this.
What I observe oftentimes is the church acting like an organization.
What I observe is that the church runs into problems when it thinks primarily like an organization. That’s when the life of the organization becomes important and a goal unto itself. What I’ve observed is that organizational concerns revolve around money – how it’s raised, how it’s spent, etc. Organizational concerns also revolve around power structures – who’s in charge, what is the decision-making process, etc. Organizational concerns also relate to numbers – membership, how many attending, etc.
I’ve observed community concerns as well. They seem to typically be things that are not measurable. Things like the attitude of the community, how welcome the community is, the culture, etc.
Maybe where I’m drawing the distinction is this way – the church as an organization deals with numbers – concrete, countable things. The church as a community deals with people and intangibles.
I wonder if there is a happy mixture between the two. I wonder if you can have one without the other. I wonder if that’s even desirable.
I would love to hear your thoughts and your own struggles with this. I’d love to hear your definitions for community and organization.