The generic question is "Just who is the appropriate entity?"
The story in January, was that Australian Air Express gained a judgement in its favour against Gasp Jeans Australia. Gasp Jeans Australia's spokesperson stated that to claim against an entity which never had any dealings with you is the equivalent of Australian Air Express suing the Herald Sun, that's how absurd it is, and that nothing's stopping them issuing proceedings against the correct company, which the claim is Gasp Jeans Chadstone. (www.smh.com.au)
This question – 'Just who is the appropriate entity' - is not an uncommon situation in business and corporate situations where a number of entities are registered and each one is engaged in a particular sphere of activity.
There are many reasons for this. Many are to with management processes, some are specifically to separate the front desk from things such as sales, manufacturing, importing, internal business interests. This means profits of one entity not being subject to the losses of another and the like.
There are also issues of taxation involved as well as careful business enterprise planning so as to maximise the business interests as defined by legislation. It could even enable them to put at arms length those areas of the business that deal with troublesome or even militant trade unionists.
These things are never simple, many accountants and accountancy firms have a wealth of experience in such matters and when something goes awfully wrong with an entity, the manoeuvring is equal to military planning for a decisive battle where lives, states, nations could possibly be at stake. In the case of business it is money, wealth, reputation, money and money.
The ultimate question is that when something goes terribly wrong, who to go after? Which entity is it? Was this or that entity the culprit. Many of the same people might be involved, but each entity is quite separate and one needs to be very careful that the correct entity is challenged.
Church Business and Politics
Church business and Church politics is like this too. Many very large churches today have so many different separate legal entities that the process at the heart of the matter may well be to separate them as 'good business practice', or more likely to 'protect those who need protection'.
Church politics is likewise deadly at this level. Many in church politics know how to use the systems in place to see that specific outcomes fall in the right way. At a personal level, it could be to see off rivals or those no longer welcome.
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson says that this is a perennial issue within the Christian scene. Recently someone sought his counsel over their married son and his family. The family found themselves at the wrong end of such politics in their local church and they ended up leaving that congregation and dropping out of church life altogether.
This is an all to common story, says Mark Tronson and he for one has written to the Christian Management Association with suggestions to incorporate in their seminars: "How to deal with the nastier side of church and mission politics".
Paul and Barnabas had a huge disagreement and they separated from each other and conducted missions in different geographical locations thus doubling the mission effort of the early church (Acts 15 verses 38-41). This is often the only-out in such situations.
Mark Tronson said that he was reminded of a 2004 seminar put on by the NSW Department of Fair Trading for Public Offices in Associations Incorporations. One question related to internal politics and the spokesperson running the seminar said they were not set up to handle disputes but that there were 32,000 Associations Incorporations and 32,001 would make no difference. In effect, the Paul and Barnabas solution.
When all else fails whenever a dispute of any kind is pondered, the first step to consider is, which 'entity' is it. Getting that right seems to be the first step. It appears also to be the first step in Matthew 18 where Jesus makes the point that when in a dispute go to the brother. It may seem stupid at first, but knowing which brother (the entity) is clearly a critical issue which may or may not be very clear in the heat of battle.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html