18 January 2012

(still) tired of church, inc.

The over-systematization of church continues on, despite its continued failure as a means to effectively establish the kingdom of God in our congregational communities.  Over and again we continue to hear about how this approach or that methodology will yield the fruit of healthy congregations, yet never breaking the cycle of life that is necessary for such approaches to exist.  I previously wrote about this being the 'enterprise of church' that must provide its own fuel lest it exhaust its own effectiveness (translation: the methodology cannot provide a cure, because a cure would make the methodology unnecessary [further translation: it is good business for those who consult to keep a situation in which they can consult.].).

One of the more recent buzz-words for this behavior is intentional.  We must be 'intentional' about this and that (and the other . . .) or else it doesn't work.  Ironically, much of what is set out to be labelled 'intentional' kills the work that should have been happening in the first place.  This happens because we are overanalyzing (not over-thinking) situations where common sense would be good (and Christian thought even better).  The quest to be 'intentional' has simply become the latest label for what some self-appointed experts deem acceptable within leadership.  It is to imply that embarking on any direction without the consideration and implementation of whatever 38 steps are currently en vogue is random and pointless wandering.  (Someone should have told this to Israel, who wandered in the wilderness recklessly thinking it was God's will they needed, rather than intentional leadership . . . Moses was such a failure by today's church leadership, if judging on the intentional-will-get-you-where-you-need-to-go scale.)

Contrary to the objections which might be raised against my point, non-intentional leadership (when so narrowly defined) is not aimless.  For that matter, wandering in the wilderness is not aimless* (I shall come back to this one, I think), if it is following the pillar of cloud and fire that is God's presence.  And, as we should have discovered by now, his fiery presence refuses to be systematized.  But, the argument for being intentional (so narrowly defined) will continue to be made, so long as certain people need to make their living in the corporate constructs of church, church leadership, church consulting, denominationalism, etc.

Hence, I am (even more than before) tired of the Church, Inc. mentality that is getting in the way of meeting people where they are for the sake of the kingdom of God.  In fact, Church, Inc. mostly requires that ordinary people within our congregations accommodate to the leadership of the statist church.  (And I always thought good leaders related to others, not vice versa.)  In practice, the lingo and theories and philosophies that are handed over to the good men and women of a particular congregation are confusing and overwhelming.  These folks are typically average people who have not been trained in the practices of pastoring, and who simply want to have a straightforward discussion of how to make our church move forward.  Those who operate out of Church, Inc. fail to deliver this.

There is a broad gap between those who write, speak, and conduct church leadership events and those who are in the thick of it at a church.  What they do not need is a litany of evaluations, surveys, training seminars, 17 steps to making a better community, or some video curriculum that teaches everyone how to effectively use terms such as relational development.  My experience is that we can use all the fancy lingo and method that we want, we can have the Sam's Club of resource libraries, but without love we are a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

It seems that the most basic command is still ours to achieve: love.  The world, both in and out of the church, from suited leadership to church custodian, need to receive love and move in love.  That will be more powerful than everything else we try to convince ourselves is so important.  Then we will follow him on the path to which he has called us, rather than the path charted out in some introduction of a book that will be obsolete by the end of the year.

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