Stephen Judd | 13 Mar 2023

Can Organisations be “Christian”?

We often talk about organisations being 'Christian'. However, what do we mean by that? Working out what we mean when we talk about ‘Christian organisations’ is not as straightforward as we might assume.

At one level the answer to the question of whether an organisation can be Christian is a simple ‘No!’ That is because to be a Christian is to become a follower of Jesus, to be a disciple. In becoming Christians, we recognise who Jesus is, realise that we have become distanced from God, repent, discover grace and salvation, and allow the Spirit to carry out the work of sanctification and redemption. That is all very individual and personal.

Now, there is no doubt that there is a communal element to being a Christian. In committing ourselves to Jesus, we become members of the body of Christ. Jesus commanded us to meet together; to share one another’s burdens; to pray for one another and so on. However, such a communal identity is Christ-inspired, Christ-founded and Christ-centred. It is very different to the corporate entity that sits at the heart of the schools or aid agencies or health services that have been established by men and women and proclaim to be 'Christian'.

So what should we mean when we refer to an organisation as 'Christian'?

Is it that the organisation proclaims 'Christian values' such as respect and dignity for all people. Is it that the organisation has a Statement of Faith which board and executive members affirm? These approaches might comfort some but are no guarantee of godly character or behaviour.

In Keeping Faith: How Christian organisations can stay true to the way of Jesus the authors argue that the Christian truths that are found in Statements of Faith or Values Statements must find expression in the outlook, disposition and daily practices of an organisation.

Beliefs, in other words, have to be translated into behaviour, down to the level of individuals within the organisation.

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