the church

Corporations, Memberships, Organizations, and The Church

Lessons from Covid-19,#10

We will begin to define the framework for the system redesign to manage 2020 and beyond. The concepts and definitions began in the New Testament description and formation of the Church.

Corporation comes from the Latin Corporare :”to combine in one body.” This is how Paul described the body of Christ , or the Church.

But what started well is now in trouble. 

In 2003 a Canadian documentary The Corporation was produced because of dissatisfaction with what seemed to be excessive self-interest of some large multinational corporations. It was a scathing opinion, defining the modern corporation as a person with a psychopathic personality disorder, exhibiting such undesirable traits as:

“The callous disregard for the feelings of other people, ..reckless disregard for the safety of others, Failure to conform to social norms and respect the law.”

Let’s see how the model we are presenting better aligns self interest with the interest of others, or doing well by doing good.

The terms member and membership also come from the church. When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, who lived in Greece, he spoke of “one body, many parts”.  While in Corinth, he wrote to the Romans, before he got there, and changed his termininology for the Roman language.  He used the Latin word “Membrum'' for limb, instead of body part. A member is defined as a constituent piece of a complex structure, or an integral body part or organ.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5)

The statement by the renowned 20th century American comedian, Groucho Marx, that “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a Member” wryly notes that membership can be used as an undesirable  tool for exclusion and separation. This is in opposition to the purpose for which it was initially described in the church.

Organization comes from the Greek organon, or organ, being a group of tissues with similar functions. Animal and human life requires many organs coexisting in organ systems. Previously we determined that every cell of every tissue, of every organ, of every organ system, of every human, and every church are complex adaptive systems.

The very concept and definition for all our modern organizations find their origins in the early church. Adam and Eve were organized and equipped to manage Eden. Getting back to the garden requires recapturing the essence of the organizational model and applying it, all the while knowing it will always take “blood, toil, tears and sweat”

Coming up, we will look at how these organs and members  are interconnected, and then how this basic model rolls out to embrace the complex adaptive systems of the  economy, the climate and pandemics.

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