By Margaret Harris (eds.)
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Extra resources for Organizing God’s Work: Challenges for Churches and Synagogues
In Chapter 10, the final chapter of the book, congregations are examined in the context of the broader environment and the social and public policy expectations on them. 2 Cause for Concern: Emerging Organizational Issues INTRODUCTION Up to now social scientists have paid little attention to organizational aspects of churches and synagogues. In this chapter initial steps are taken towards building a specialist body of knowledge on 'congregational organization' by drawing together the disparate material on the subject.
Similarly, Ranson and his colleagues who studied three Christian denominations in England, conclude: 'Churches are, by definition, hierarchically organised, with full-time professionals, developed procedures, articulated belief systems ... Essentially a Church has formalised and routinised the administration of the means of grace' (1977, p. 112). The Weberian distinction between 'traditional', 'charismatic' and 'rational-legal' forms of authority has also been widely employed to analyse congregations.
Clergy and rabbis seem to find it especially difficult to acknowledge the stress they experience; it is thought 'not to be quite respectable' (Coate, 1989, p. 12). Difficulties of role definition are not experienced just by clergy and rabbis. Lay people too may be unclear about what is expected of them and the relationship between lay people and their ministers may be especially fraught. Some of the problems seem to stem from the ambiguous employment situation of ministers. They are generally paid a salary for the work they do (either by the congregation itself or by the denominational organization) so they are, in a sense, 'employees' with all the usual legal and traditional responsibilities and accountabilities which attend that status.