Friday, April 17, 2009

"Is Your Church A Clone?"

Here is the second installment of Michael Fleming's series

"We see or experience a pattern that "works," and then we assume that if we repeat the pattern exactly, we can manufacture the same result. This works almost well enough often enough to convince us that it could work all the time." - Organic Community by Joseph R. Myers

We're taking a look at nine organizational tools will help you discover whether you are a part of a mechanical order approach or an organic order approach. Then, hopefully you will start to shift to an organic order approach to create environments where people naturally connect and become an organic community.

Prior posts in this series:

Is Your Church an Object?

The first organizational tool is patterns. They can be prescriptive or descriptive. Prescriptive patterns are “prescribed.” They are specific, rigid and regular. Prescriptive patterns are good and necessary when used within the confines of the mechanical order of inanimate objects and systems, like traffic patterns and assembly lines. But, when dealing with life systems, prescriptive patterns are deadly. Forcing connections between people is awkward and uncomfortable.

Organic order is strengthened by descriptive patterns. Descriptive patterns describe reality. They don’t force it. A good parent will observe the patterns and behaviors of each child separately and relate to them based upon the uniqueness of each individual. But, we frequently reverse the process and force prescriptive patterns of living onto them.

We get into trouble when we take a descriptive pattern that worked and turn it into a prescriptive pattern. We treat the second child the same way we treated the first child because we think that since it worked the first time, it will work the second. Then children (or members, participants, etc.) start to feel like they are nameless soldiers marching in lockstep, turning right or left at the command of the officer.

Every person’s face follows a similar pattern, but none are exactly the same. Descriptive (organic) patterns do not produce clones. But, we see this happen all the time with churches. This is where movements (megachurch, seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, house church) come from. People see “results” somewhere and they think it will work somewhere else. Well, this is true for mechanical systems, but not for life (organic) systems.

Churches will install programs in their prescriptive (mechanical) attempt to make the Christian life happen. They come up with a mechanical plan of what it will take to grow as an organization and for people to grow spiritually intimate with God and others. Then, with good intentions, they attempt to force that plan to happen. Then, if it doesn’t happen, it’s marked as a failure. There is a powerful word that is used to describe the forcing of an intimate connection. That word is rape. Now does it make sense why so many people are angry, bitter and rejecting our churches?

Myers, Joseph R. "Organic Community"

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