This morning, I was reading the first few chapters of Numbers. I have to be honest with you, and I am somewhat ashamed to admit, I wasn’t expecting much. Aside from a few interesting (and confusing) stories, the book of Numbers is filled with, you guessed it, numbers!
The first few chapters are all about counting the people of Israel. This tribe has 60,000 people. That tribe has 40,000 people. With twelve tribes to go through, the lists of numbers and names of people can get tedious.
But once again, God proved himself faithful by showing me something I hadn’t thought of before. In chapter 2, God tells Moses to arrange all the people into their tribal camps around the Tabernacle. We are told which tribes should be on the east, west, north and south, but we are also told who the leaders should be and how many people there are.
Here’s an example:
On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. His division numbers 74,600. — Numbers 2:3-4
The people are given position leadership and identity. That is, they are told where they should be, who will be their leader, and whom they should consider to be among them (the 74,600 people).
For some time, I have been laboring under the somewhat misguided notion that to be a “simple” church, we had to deemphasize organizational structure. The postmodern (and somewhat ADD) side of me doesn’t like rigid structures anyway, but in many respects, I have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I have allowed “simplicity” to be an excuse for failing to actually organize people with specific position, leadership, and identity.
The truth of the matter is that without those three things, there is no group at all.
This has been made more clear to me in the last few weeks. Up until this summer, we have basically been surviving as a church by the fact that one person was doing all the hospitality stuff, one person was doing all the sound stuff, we had a few teams loosely led, and we have a pretty well-organized children’s ministry, but as more people started coming and wanting to get involved, the hospitality team seemed like the most natural early fit, and the influx of new people has revealed a few gaps in our organizational structure.
So, I have been inspired recently to get more focused on organizational issues, and my reading today dovetails perfectly with that. If I can gain from what God showed me this morning, I will be developing greater clarity on the identity, position, and leadership of the different teams in the church.
Hold my feet to the fire; we gotta get this done!