We had a discussion about church the other night. Nothing too unusual, we have them quite frequently, however, this time it became quite heated and people got upset.
The gist of the debate was my proposition that the church tends to make people more unhappy than happy. I contested that it is not possible for it to be both organisational and inspirational.The organisation always wins and the members of the church become slaves to the machine. Happy, satisfied slaves are very thin on any ground and it is to the credit of all involved that “church people” keep their sanity and their goodwill intact (well those that do manage that is). Unfortunately it is not good for those not involved as the chances of them becoming involved are very slim indeed.
This is not to suggest that those who have spent their lives in the service of the church have wasted their time; most, if not all are good people trying to live good lives and they spend their time doing good works. This is a good thing. But it isn’t what the church should be doing, or rather it isn’t all the church should be doing and it tends to be just that. Good can be a very subjective term.
At first, with little to lose, new young churches take chances, they move where the spirit leads them. Anything and everything is possible. They generate interest, they gather people, they establish themselves then…. woah, hang on, should we being doing that, this might happen, we can’t lose that. Slowly small things that were previously done without a second thought have to be done in the way ‘they always have been’ despite the circumstances in which these activities were conceived having changed beyond recognition.
Spontaneity goes, everything is planned and planned and planned, just in case. Slowly the spirit creeps out of the place. The uncontainable, unmanagable, unplannable, unpreditable spirit that brought them all together is lost and the organisation takes it’s place. The organisation makes sure that things are done properly. The organisation makes sure that no one gets hurt. The organisation makes sure that accidents don’t happen. The organisation makes sure that, well, nothing happens
Is it possible to avoid this or is this just the natural development cycle of a group – the forming, storming, norming and performing? Yes.
Is it easy? No.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
How? Rip it up and start again, and again, and again.