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Chapter 22 - Organizational Systems

Most churches today consist of a building (and associated property). There may be organizational financial investments, endowments, or mortgages. There will probably be financial direction administered concerning the collection and distribution of funds. There may be a membership list that defines who is allowed to vote on matters affecting the church. There will be committees of people for various tasks. There will usually be a pastor or priest who directs the activities. There may be a second tier such as deacons, elders, or a pastoral staff. Even if there is no greater organizational network such as a denomination, this local system structure is almost universal.

This organizational structure evolved in the early church and while the Reformation provided some branches that made some doctrinal changes, the organizational structure seems to have continued through the centuries. This organizational structure (like all collectives) has a life of its own and its momentum imparts a direction to activity that works to keep individuals from the depth of relationship that is crucial to spiritual growth.

With the business of activities, events, programs, and even classes, people can be moved through scripted events such that there is no allowance for individuals to even visit with each other much less form the relationships that allow Christians to minister to and love one another. Basically, the direction of activity by the group precludes individual initiated action. One becomes an extension of the group performing actions directed by others.

The Pharisees had created an organizational system based on the law given to Israel. They sought to control and direct the activities of all who could be persuaded to surrender themselves to the system requirements. Jesus gave a particularly harsh warning to those so involved with their system that they lost sight of the God who it was that they claimed to serve.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. - Matthew 23:15

‘System blindness’ can also operate to such an extent that one begins to justify or excuse sin.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. - Matthew 23:14

An organizational system is like a mechanical version of Christianity. Having been designed and programmed to follow procedures, it tends to draw people away from individual Christian maturity and growth into a focus on activity and performance. When someone thinks that ‘Christianity’ is what is done at a specific location and defined and described by others, he can begin to feel excluded and sees his life outside the orchestrated events as more real. In this way systems can seem to divorce individuals from Christ.


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