The contribution of strategic management and organisational development theory, models and practice to the effectiveness of local churches : a study on a selected sample of South African urban and suburban churches at congregational level

Roux, C. H (2005-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The idea of deliberately planning and measuring the work of congregations does not settle easily with many church leaders and theologians. This study suggests that churches are becoming increasingly socially ineffective because they do not understand and apply scientific management knowledge and methods. Strongly held ideologies and dichotomies characterise the milieu of this topic. There remains a very real social problem concerning the role of churches. That is what this study has based its relevance on. The study is encouragingly supported by its finding that 90% of church leaders surveyed, disagreed with the notion that the church has no responsibility to society at large for its actions. 92% of respondents further agreed that the role of the church is the well-being and upliftment of its communities and not just to create converts. This study presents evidence that questions the success claims of the Church Growth body of knowledge. Evangelism world-wide has recently experienced the most extraordinary acceleration in the number of conversions in the history of the Church, but research in the countries where this phenomenon has been more prevalent, has found little equivalent growth in church membership. The work of researchers in the USA has repeatedly drawn attention to the alarming levels of "unchurched" Christians and the falling away of Pentecostal churches. This study confirms the trend in South Africa and reveals our unchurched level to be 53%. Analysis of congregational development interventions attempted by the sample reveals an almost three times greater success rate reported by churches that did not apply the church growth principles or combined them with management methods. The aim is to present explanations and solutions for the difficulties churches are having both in the areas of managing their own development and in retaining committed members for a nobler purpose than to laud their size over smaller, but possibly more caring and socially effective churches. An objective of this study is to present existing knowledge and methods from the field of management science as a conceptual framework for systematically fitting disconnected elements of contemporary Church Growth Theory into a holistic and integrated development approach that goes deeper than a mere mechanistic extrapolation of theoretical ideas and praxis from one context into another. The survey found a 74% support base from the South African church leaders surveyed for a synthesis of the best of both Church Growth and business management methods in fulfilment of its mission. The most compelling finding that this research contributes to social knowledge, however, is that local churches found to have reported significantly more externally focused growth such as evangelism, community work and church planting, applied strategic thinking, formal planning and management methods to their development without compromising the Gospel message that the Church is called bring to society.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beweer dat kerke word meer sosiaal oneffektief omdat hulle nie wetenskaplike bestuurskennis verstaan en metodiek toepas nie. Dit is waarop hierdie studie se relevansie gebaseer is. Die studie is bemoedigend ondersteun deur die bevinding dat 90% van die kerkleiers wat aan die ondersoek deelgeneem het, nie met die mening saamstem dat die kerk geen verantwoordelikheid teenoor die gemeenskap in sy geheel het en daartoe bydra nie. 92% van die respondente het ook saamgestem dat die rol van die kerk is om by te dra tot die opheffing en welgesteldheid van die gemeenskap, en nie net om bekeerlinge te skep nie. Hierdie studie lewer bewys wat die sukses-aansprake van die Kerkgroei Beweging teenspreek. Wereldwye evangelasie het onlangs 'n buitengewone versnelling ondervind in die aantaI bekeerlinge in die geskiedenis van die kerk, maar navorsing toon dat in die lande waar hierdie verskynsel die sterkste voorgekom het, baie min ekwivalente groei in kerklidrnaatskap plaasgevind het. Hierdie studie bevestig die tendens in Suid Afrika en wys dat ons vlak van ongekerktes op 53% staan. Ontleding van die gemeente se ontwikkellings-intervensies wat deur die kerke in die proefskrif onderneem is, wys dat kerke wat nie kerkgroei beginsels toegepas het nie, of hierdie met bestuursmetodes kombineer, amper drie maal groter sukses behaal het. Die doeI is om verduidelikings en oplossings aan te bied vir die probleme wat kerke in beide die areas om hul eie ontwikkeling te bestuur asook die toegewyde lede te behou vir 'n meer eerbare doel as om af te kyk op kleiner, maar moontlik meer sorgsame en sosiaaI effektiewe kerke. 'n Doel van hierdie studie is om bestaande kennis en metodes in die bestuurswetenskappe as 'n konseptuele raamwerk aan te bied vir die sistematiese passing van ontwrigtende elemente van kontemporere Kerkgroei Teorie binne 'n holistiese en geintegreerde ontwikkelingsbenadering wat dieper gaan as sIegs die meganistiese ekstrapolering van teoretiese idees en praktyk van een konteks na 'n ander. Die navorsing het 'n ondersteuningsbasis van 74% bevind onder die Suid Afrikaanse kerkleiers wat aan die ondersoek deeIgeneem het, vir 'n sintese van die beste van beide kerkgroei en besigheidsbestuursmetodes in vervulling van die kerk se missie. Die mees afdwingbare bevinding wat hierdie navorsing bydra tot sosiale kennis is egter dat plaaslike kerke wat aansienlik meer in eksterne areas van evangelasie, gemeenskapwerk en kerkplanting groei, het toegepaste strategiese denke, formele beplanning en bestuursmetodes aangewend sonder om die Evangeliese boodskap waarvoor die kerk geroepe is om aan die gemeenskap te bring, te kompromitteer.

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