ATSS PRESENTS: Raj Attiken, “Can We Tame Our Overgrown Church Bureaucracy?”
25 April 2023 |
There is a growing awareness among some Adventists that our organizational structure has outgrown and outlived its usefulness. While some find the structure to be serving them well, others are convinced that many roles and functions are ineffective and unnecessary. There have been long-standing concerns that the number of persons employed in administrative offices (General Conference, divisions, unions, conferences) is disproportionately large in relation to front-line workers. Some wonder whether we even need the multi-layered structure that we have inherited from our past.
Yet calls for restructuring and downsizing have gone unheeded for over 40 years. Are we stuck with a top-heavy structure? Do we have to keep maintaining it despite its irrelevance and dysfunction? Are emerging generations of Adventists likely to support the institutional church as previous generations have done? What options, if any, are available to concerned members? What can we learn from other organizations about how bureaucracies change and reinvent themselves?
We will explore these and other questions as we identify measures that are available to address concerns about what some see as an ossified organizational structure while we also acknowledge the positive features about the church that merit celebration.
Raj Attiken is retired president of the Ohio Conference, and an adjunct professor at Kettering College.