Fundamentals of Organization
Organizations influence the social construct and the ideological framework of society. In general, people experience the impact of organizational existence on a daily basis. In most of the Western world, laws are made by local, state, or federal government, which are all organizations that exists to improve the quality of life for others. Parents send their children to organizations called schools so they can learn necessary skills for life and productivity. People shop, serve, or attend some kind of organization almost every day of their lives. Organizations are hard to see. We see outcroppings, such as a tall building, a computer workstation, or a friendly employee, but the whole organization is vague and abstract and may be scattered among several locations, even around the world. We know organizations are there because they touch us every day. Indeed, they are so common that we take them for granted (Daft, 2016, pg.13). The impact and influence of and organization is deeply rooted in the fact that it is operated by groups of people and usually not limited to one personality. Organizations are (1) social entities that (2) are goal-directed, (3) are designed as deliberately structured and coordinated activity systems, and (4) are linked to the external environment (Daft, 2016, pg.13). When thinking about organizational components, five fundamental questions are of importance. First, “Why does the organization exist”? The answer to this question formulates the organization’s mission and purpose and explores how it is communicated to its customers, employees, and society. Secondly, “How will the organization be structured”? The answer describes the organizational hierarchy. Next, “How will the organization feel”? The answer to this question will help the organization discover and define its culture. Fourthly, “What kind of leader does this organization need”? When this question is answered, the leadership roles and responsibilities will be made perfectly clear. Finally, the organization must inquire about its worldview and how it influences the organization decision making or practices. Zion Christian Ministries International, Inc., is a church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that was structured and organized in 2009. I, Christopher Johnson, serve as pastor of this ministry that is uniquely constructed with a multi-generational make up. From 2009 to present, Zion Christian Ministries has grown to over six hundred members, which is above the national average and in some circles considered approaching mega-church descriptions. This ministry will be used as a reference for each fundamental of organizational construction.
Every organization needs a reason to operate. Author and organizational consultant Simon Sinek said, “very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money- that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? Why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?” (2009, pg.46). Organizational fluidity throughout day to day operations will hinge on how well those within the organization are connected to its purpose and mission. The complexities that surround reasons for existence for the organization is centered on the fact that vision, mission, and purposes sometime overlap. A vision is a clear mental picture of a preferred future. Pastor and author Andy Stanley said, “Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be” (1999, pg.17). However, missions are initiative driven and usually depict what the organization seeks to do. A combination of vision and mission usually makes up the purpose of the organization. The challenge for most organizations, is to find ways to effectively communicate these purposes. Zion Christian Ministries has as its original vision statement:
Our vision is to be a light in the city of Murfreesboro and the surrounding areas by having an overwhelming effect on the lives of many with intent of making them disciples for the Lord. We will provide educational training, creative audio/visual capabilities, captivating music outreach, and systematic approaches to defending our faith. Our membership will fervently seek to please God by breaking all barriers of race, creed, culture or denomination. (Zion Christian Ministries International, Inc, 2009, pg.6)
In the initial formation of this vision statement, it shows a clear picture of the preferred future of the organization. An additional purpose statement was added to the bylaws that describe what the organization was put in its community to do:
To exclaim the word of God in the community to bring membership to His family, educate them in ways, equipping them for their ministry, encourage them as we assemble, and exalt His name with them in worship. (Zion Christian Ministries International, Inc, 2009, pg.6)
In a revised and amended copy of the bylaws, the organization found a way to simplify and combine the purpose statement with the vision of the ministry to create, a succinct but defining statement for its initiatives:
We exist, so that people who are distant from Christ can become disciples for Christ. (Zion Christian Ministries International, Inc, 2018, pg.6)
The vision of the ministry is nothing but guesswork without motivated, focused, and capable people to capture it and then communicate it. Every organization needs a structure that functions as the framework for the organization’s day to day functionality. Every structure organizes people and keeps everyone involved in the organization intentional and systematically concerned about their role specific tasks. British economist and professor, John Child lists three key components that define organizational structure:
1. Organization structure designates formal reporting relationships, including the number of levels in the hierarchy and the span of control of managers and supervisors.
2. Organization structure identifies the grouping together of individuals into departments and of departments into the total organization.
3. Organization structure includes the design of systems to ensure effective communication, coordination, and integration of efforts across departments. (Child, as quoted by Daft, 2016, pg. 13)
Organizational structure creates interaction between the leaders of the organization to the lower level teams in the organization. Organizations have to decide whether the structure is centralized or decentralized. In centralized structures, decisions are made at the top of the leadership tier. In decentralized structures, the decision-making tasks are delegated throughout lower level leaders on the teams Zion Christian Ministries International uses a decentralized method of structure. The organization is structured with one senior leader at the top of the organization’s structural chart, then several leaders under the senior leader head up teams of the organization. Together, the leaders and the senior leader make up the governing body. Decisions are made by team leaders and then reported to the senior leader. With this method, vertical communication is only necessary as means of secondary communication and not primary instruction.
Leadership expert and consultant, Sam Chand said, “Culture- not vision or strategy- is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there” (2011, pg. 183). An organization’s culture is more important than its vision. Any group that has healthy and productive culture can help ascertain and push the vision. However, toxic culture will stop the progress toward vision fulfilment before it even gets started. When we talk about culture, we are usually referring to the pattern of development reflected in a society’s system of knowledge, ideology, values, laws, and day-to-day ritual (Morgan, 2006, pg. 13). Culture aims at defining the “feel” of the organization. At Zion Christian Ministries, a culture profile has been constructed. People who come to Zion should feel motivated, uplifted, inspired, loved, informed, included, and honored (Zion Christian Ministries Inc, 2019, pg.40). When organizations decide on culture profiles, the day to day convictions, beliefs, and values should be demonstrated and expected amongst team members. When culture becomes priority, it seeks to determine the quality of the environment while everyone in the organization is in pursuit toward accomplishing goals and fulfilling mission.
Organizations that are structured, cultured, and sure about their mission, will obtain high levels of performance. This will attract more qualified, talented, and productive people to the organization. Leaders in these organizations should have leadership styles that provide both support and direction. Directive behaviors help group members accomplish goals by giving directions, establishing goals and methods of evaluation, setting timelines, defining roles, and showing how the goals are to be achieved. Directive behaviors clarify, often with one-way communication, what is to be done, how it is to be done, and who is responsible for doing it. Supportive behaviors help group members feel comfortable about themselves, their coworkers, and the situation. Supportive behaviors involve two-way communication and responses that show social and emotional support to others (Northouse, 2019, pg. 13). Effective leadership involves both giving active direction and giving supportive direction. At Zion Christian Ministries, the senior leadership has had to be both, depending on the needs of the team members. Now, the leadership of Zion is challenged to teach, train, and then trust upcoming leaders. Leaders should be able to model desired outcomes, motivate team members through processes, and mentor them with their passive presence. This kind of thinking fosters more healthy leadership relationships. Good leaders are able to decipher when the team needs each leadership style.
Worldviews shape actions and attitudes. How people see life and everything in it will often be revealed in how they interact and function in the world. In organizational culture, worldviews shape the intricate dynamics of the organizations core values. In his book, Universe Next Door, James Sire said, “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” (2009, pg. 18). These “matters of the heart” typically show up in the organization’s codes or value statements. It shapes the culture of the group and often flows into how people in the organization will interact. Worldview also help determine guidelines and rules for the organization and helps to establish structures. How we see the world will determine how we function in it. For example, Zion Christian Ministries has its world views depicted in its value statements:
1. Life Process - Every believer at the point of salvation begins a life process of Christ- likeness. We are never the same after conversion, but everyone should continue to grow and develop in this Christian life. And ultimately be able to aid others in this process
2. Personal Relationship - Every believer should have as the focal point of their life, their own personal relationship with God the creator through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
3. Spiritual Growth - Growth that takes place in the church, families, ministries, etc. does not happen until the growth spiritually takes place first. A spiritual foundation must be laid first, then temporal.
4. Ministerial Integrity - Every leader or minister that will serve the in the capacity of ministry will live a life of integrity, be loyal to leadership and laity, and commit to the work of the gospel.
5. Family Development - A healthy church means healthy families must be established. Ministries will minister to families and promote holy sanction between a man and a woman and will also teach children the structure of family as outlined in scripture.
6. Youth Development - Children must learn from the church the skills necessary to grow intellectually, spiritually and socially. The church must aid in the development of the growth in the child.
7. Purpose Empowerment - We are empowered as a ministry by the five purposes of the church. These include worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, and fellowship.
8. Apologetics - Every believer should have a working knowledge of what they believe in Christianity or "What it means to be a Christian". We should also be able to readily defend what we believe against all other religions, skeptics, or seekers.
9. Creativity - God has made us to be creative because we were made in his likeness and in his image. We will continue to find creative and innovative ways to present the gospel message and our ministry.
10. Authority - The word of God is the final authority in every situation in this ministry. The church is structured according to the Word of God. Every dispute will be settled by the word. Every action will be governed by the Word of God. (Zion Christian Ministries, 2019, pg. 7)
Each of these values are essential to the growth and development of Zion Christian Ministries. Each member is challenged through the ministry’s teachings, activities, and social constructs to uphold redistribute these standards.
Organizations play a vital role in our society. Amitai Etzioni said, “We are born in organizations, educated by organizations, and most of us spend much of our lives working in organizations. We spend much of our leisure time paying, playing and praying in organizations. Most of us will die in organizations and, when the time comes for burial, the largest organization of them all—the State—must grant official permission” (2015, pg. 145). Serious thought and consideration must go into forming, structuring, and establishing an organization. Concepts such as worldviews or perceptions, organizational culture, and leadership quality are all concepts that are necessary for organizational health.
Chand, S. R. (2011). Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)). San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
Chand, S. R. (2015). Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and Practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Wallace, C. (2011). Leadership Gap: Motivate and Organize a Great Ministry Team. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.