“Why are we talking about leadership and management? This is the church. We don’t want to bring all this secular business stuff into it.” You may have heard statements like this from parishioners. Or you may have said similar things yourself.
Often when people talk about effective leadership or growth in the church, they begin incorporating secular ideas and models. What should our response be when we come across tools from the secular world that seem like they may be helpful? Use them because they can get the job done? Set them aside if they don’t have specifically Christian roots?
What about a third option? What if some theories or principles can be in alignment with scripture without actually having sprung from it? How can we evaluate them?
All truths can be classified into one of three categories:
- Truths spelled out in special revelation (e.g. the ten commandments)
- Truths illuminated by natural revelation and supported by special revelation (e.g. small groups support individual spiritual growth)
- Truths apparent from natural revelation but not mentioned in special revelation (e.g. DNA, gravity)
*Special revelation = scripture
*Natural revelation = creation
Anything that is untrue is contradicted by natural revelation, special revelation, or both. Ideas that are untrue have no place in our ministries. Therefore, we must evaluate every idea to see whether it lines up with what God would have for us.
Let’s take the idea of evaluation itself as an example. Is evaluation biblical? We can think through questions like whether God evaluates. When he made the world, he looked at it and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Then in Genesis 2:18, after having made Adam, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. So he made Eve. Throughout the creation, we see God assessing his work.
Does God indicate in scripture that we also should evaluate? In Acts 6, he tells the apostles that they should look for people with certain character qualities to select as leaders. This requires that we evaluate and select according to certain criteria. In order to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” we must consider what some of those good deeds might be in our particular context. And then of course, how might we spur one another on toward them? There are various ways and we must choose.
Given these reflections, we can consider that evaluation as a concept aligns with what we see in scripture. This is an example of how we can think biblically, and this is how we can assess any secular ideas that come to us.