Edited for space from nakedpastor’s blog on October 23rd:
“I refuse to concoct plans for people’s lives. I refuse to concoct a plan for the life of my church. I realize I’m going against the flow, like a salmon swimming up an impossible gush of watery onslaughts. But I just won’t do it. So fire me!
I used to do it. I used to pray and wait and then articulate the vision and set out a one, three and five year plan with great gusto and with leadership and congregational support and fanfare. But I have stopped because I believe it destroys, in a violently sinister way, the lives of people and the life of a community. It’s presumptuous and cruel and inhumane. I have been on the receiving end of this visionary kind of program and I will no longer have any part of it. I realize how tantalizing, how dizzyingly intoxicating visionary thinking and purpose-driven living can be. It tastes good, but it’s poison…
…One…woman visited me earlier today and says that she can smell someone’s plan for her life way down the road and avoids it like the plague because she sees it as soul-destroying. I think that is radically rebellious but radically healthy. Another salmon.”
I used to be paid to be the person telling everyone in the local church what God’s plan was for their lives. When you can talk the spiritual lingo, it doesn’t take much to heap burdensome loads on people’s backs. Being a Pharisee is the easiest thing in the world. If some one wasn’t participating, at least I could get them feeling really guilty about it. Yep. That was my “job.”
I am on the other end now, church-wise. And I am pondering nakedpastor’s comment, “…it destroys, in a violently sinister way, the lives of people and the life of a community…” and thinking about what we lose when we try to fit a big bunch of talented, gifted, hurting and whole people into a one-year plan – let alone a 5-year program. Don’t we miss out on something by not allowing the whole kit-and-caboodle to grow and interact, to become and add on to in an organic, natural way? What if something extraordinary is about to happen, but we are so closely following the “plan” we miss it?
Structure and order are my life. But I am wondering, in even my own ministry: how much is too much? When is my soul destroyed by living in a plan God actually never had for me?
I hate being trendy in church, but I also fall prey to every Willow Creek-Saddleback-Catalyst-John Maxwell-Hillsong-Church marketing sucks-Relevant-We’re not like other churches (but we really are)-Church Planting 101-Purpose Driven-Mars Hill-Rob Bell-Try to be hip like Blue like Jazz river-of-thought. And so do lots of churches and ministries.
A friend of mine was recently invited to an exciting “all-new and improved” church plant. She accidentally went to the wrong school where another church was meeting. But the following week, when she got to the right school (right down the street) of the church she had actually been invited to, the signage was the same, the claims were the same, they sang the same songs and even the pastors and their wives (carefully selected as planter-types) looked kinda the same. Why? Because even church planting has been stripped down to a science, a checklist of what to do and when and how.
Are we destroying the people in our care? Are we more of an organization than a living, breathing organism? Are we missing the incredible potential of the church to be the multi-faceted, brilliantly dazzling glory of God on earth by all doing the same things, one church to the next, putting people into the same molds?
What if?…Jeanie (I love the Bride, love the church, but I am recovering from churchaholism)