Saturday, November 24, 2012
A managerial congregation will borrow outlooks and methods from the corporate world, and be preoccupied with metrics, goals, objectives, and outcomes largely cast without use of the church’s historic grammar.
The psychological congregation sees its life in therapeutic terms, and employs the language of health and pathology, of addiction and recovery, and co-dependence.
The political church sees itself as a change-agent in an unjust and oppressive society, and understands its mission to advance a series of predetermined causes.
The procedural church is functionally atheistic, in that everything depends on us, and nothing depends on God, other than to bless and sanctify the works of our hands.
All borrowed from Per∙Crucem∙ad∙Lucem where you can read the whole article. I have cut a pasted a couple of its more poignant paragraphs diagnosing the trouble with the Church today. Thoroughly indebted to wisdom of others, the point of this post is to remind us that we are the Church but we seem to want to be something different. Our pursuit with management is reflective of our love affair with earthly success and tangible signs of our effectiveness at what we do as well as our desire to dominate. Our love affair with therapeutic endeavors is testament to our desire to fix things -- to fix people, to fix families, to fix neighborhoods, and to fix communities -- and our denial of suffering as a part of daily life. Our political identity connects the two previous affections with the desire to rally people to a cause and to a better world today while forgetting that the goal of the Kingdom is not the reform of that which is passing away. The procedural idea underlies it all since it places us back where we have always wanted to be since the Garden -- in the middle of it all and in charge of it all.
Too much of what passes as wisdom in the Church today could fit under one of those headings listed above and too little of what the Church is and does flows from the Gospel of the cross. It seems to me that the religious right and left are fully united in their idea of using the Church to achieve a specific goal -- they just differ on what that goal should be. The Church is not a means to an end but, in effect, an end in and of itself. It/she is here and now and forever by God's grace and declaration. It/she endures not because it/she dominates or wins, or is efficient. Faithfulness is the only criteria by which the Church is judged and God is not shy about telling us this. It is just that faithfulness has become less than enough for us. We yearn and desire to be something more or something different. In doing so, we are much like the people of God who sent Moses packing to find out the mind of God while they had in mind what they wanted and desired. Perhaps the best the Lord can do is grind up our best laid plans, promotions, and schemes as He had the golden calf ground up and then present it to us to drink as the taste of repentance.
Let me close with the concluding paragraph by the author with whose words I began:
Without sound teaching, faithful preaching, lively and sacramental worship, and enriching group life, the congregation can have [everything else right] and still have lost its soul.
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Our pursuit with management is reflective of our love affair with earthly success and tangible signs of our effectiveness at what we do as well as our desire to dominate. Our love affair with therapeutic endeavors is testament to our desire to fix things -- to fix people, to fix families, to fix neighborhoods, and to fix communities -- and our denial of suffering as a part of daily life.
While the motivation behind such actions could spring from Christian mercy and charity, the confidence that we can actually effect such change has its roots in Enlightenment thinking. I like vaccinations and the green revolution as much as the next guy. However, ultimately these things don't solve, they delay the day of an individual's destiny. As palliatives, they are salutary, as cure of souls, worthless.
We remain in the same condition we have been in since the garden, fallen. We have fallen and we can't get up. We must be lifted up. Therefore the spread of the Gospel is the only real imperative.
The Golden Calf is an appropriate icon. Many or most of evangelicals (and many Lutherans) have the business/pop-psych/social justice/life-guide model at their center. The name of God is used/abused. As Aaron called the calf he made the god that had led Israel out of Egypt so today. It was likely a close copy of one of Egypt's false gods.
God's name is never more blasphemed than in this similar current situation.
Indeed, Anonymus. The spread of the Gospel in it's indicative is the imperative.
Thanks for the article and the comments.
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