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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Organism or Organization?

Dennis and I got into a conversation about church today, on the way to church. It wasn't actually about the church we were headed to, but the church we feel called to plant (an intentional community). I don't even remember the specifics of it anymore, but it got my wheels to turning, thinking about the nature of church.

I think we are all well aware that church these days is mostly an organization for people to join. We hire  people based on a job description, and members mostly choose a church based on its programs. Annual budgets are made, and events are planned a year in advance. Of course, there is room for variation among the individual Bible study groups to do outreach or outside social events, but even the Bible study curriculum is typically chosen by someone outside the group, with each lesson assigned a date on the calendar, usually planned at least a year ahead of time.

What if church was an organism? What if we didn't plan ahead quite so much, but instead made decisions based on what/who is in front of us? What if we promised to be faithful with our money, but not make an annual budget without accounting for the unforeseen opportunities that might come our way?

What if we made decisions based not on our particular church (we Ellzeys like to call it a gathering), as in who's a member, who isn't, where one church ends and another begins, but instead on the body of Christ as a whole?

We have a ministry plan written out for our "someday church", we even have a name picked out. However, I'm sometimes concerned that we're going to miss out on what's in front of us because we're too busy trying to find people to join our organization.

Another thing that concerns me about church as an organization, is the focus on numbers. I think that church as an organism should not be judged by size, but health. One healthy church body may have 200 members, but another may have as little as five. One may start with 200 but divide into 2 or more groups in order to keep authentic intimacy within the group. As long as the divide is amicable, I would consider it a healthy one. Perhaps a group might occasionally even dissolve into other groups, which isn't a bad thing, if the need for that group has passed.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't know that having a five year plan is a good idea for a church, if you want to look at it as an organism. Maybe having a "plan" (note the quotations) is good, so you're not wandering aimlessly, but always keep in mind that things will most likely not turn out as you expect.

I think this rule can apply to family and one's personal life, too. We often miss the trees for the forest, if that makes any sense. I'm pretty sure it doesn't. We, or at least I, can miss what's being given to me right now because it's not the thing I was looking for. Of course it's good to have goals, but be willing to trade those goals in for new ones as we change and evolve.

I know that I tend to lean on the side of "winging it" as opposed to planning things out, which is why I'm glad I married Dennis, the man-with-a-plan. I recognize the need for a plan, and I'm glad that he's geared that way, so the burden is taken off of me. In a lot of ways I feel like we balance each other out in that respect. I like order and having a plan, but my personality thrives with freedom. I can trust that he's going to keep the machine running smoothly, while I do whatever it is that I do best.

If only I could figure out what exactly that is...

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