With this chapter we begin the pattern that we shall follow throughout the rest of the book. Texts from the New Testament will take us into the heart of the earliest Christian communities; a section will then explore one or several aspects of Christian religious organizations as we find them today; and we shall study examples of secular management theory that might be relevant to those religious organizations. We shall conclude by exploring connections between the three sections. The particular focus of all of the sections of this chapter will be ‘story’ and ‘culture’. By ‘story’ we mean the evolving account of how the organization came into existence, and of those aspects of its historical journey that remain significant; and by an organization’s ‘culture’ we mean a shared set of understandings, the ways in which ‘people have a similar idea of things… and do them in the same way’ (Becker, 1982: 514). Culture and story are of course connected. An organization will tell its story in order to describe and to give reasons for its culture; and its culture will influence the way in which the story is told.
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