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Organizing Love in Church is a book about how to organize God’s people so that they’re better able to love Him and their neighbours.
People who lead God’s people, particularly in the local church. It is particularly focused on evangelical church pastors.
Stuart Heath and Tim Adeney begin with the uncontroversial premise that the church should be defined by love - both for those within the church community, and those outside it. Where acts of love aren’t happening as much as they could or should, there this could be a problem of the heart (people don’t want to), or a problem of knowledge (people don’t know how to) . But it could also be because the structures or “social architecture” makes it difficult for these acts of love to flourish. They explain:
“If we’re not seeing our church grow in love for God, his people and his world, it’s possible that we’re doing all the right things, but God’s just not blessing our efforts. But where there’s a lack of fruit, it’s at least worth asking whether the vine needs tending - whether what we’re doing is in what what God has asked us to do, or whether there are things we’ve inadvertently overlooked. Because our hope is that when God blesses, he blesses through us rather than in spite of us.”
Heath and Adeney contend that “one of the responsibilities of leaders is to promote love in the churches entrusted to them.” They then make the observation that:
“Our present church culture seems to favour leaders doing good themselves over creating conditions where the rest of the church can do good.”
This has led to an emphasis on paid staff, which in turn has led to an emphasis on events of relationship:
“If a church’s love primarily depends on staff, it’s almost inevitable that it’ll also be more focussed on events or one-off tasks (i.e. the staff loving many people in a few ways) than on relationships (i.e. where all members love a few others in many ways.”
The authors go on to explain what this might actually look like, with concrete suggestions for how church leaders might create better structures for organizing love.
“Organizing love in church is less about how church members can help the pastor get his work done in the church, and more about how the pastor can help everyone else get their work done in the world.”
Many of the observations made by the authors resonate with my experience in evangelical churches, and they helpfully move from theory to actionable suggestions for alternative church structures. Organizing Love in Church should be required reading for evangelical church pastors. And it's just $2.98 on Kindle.