This Crazy Church World

Dr. ChurchLove: Or, How I stopped worrying and learned to love church structure

Good morning!

I have a little rant to share with y’all. (originally posted in a Facebook Page) I hope this is for you. I hope it edifies you. If not, I hope it amuses you, he he:

There are two great TENSIONS throughout church history, that I see. I think we all see, experience and struggle with.

Every church and organization I have been with (8 staffs now since I graduated) immediately faces these TWO GREAT TENSIONS.

ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT VS ORGANIC SPONTANEITY

Here’s what is ironic. The Organic Spontaneity is what creates life – GROWTH! Everybody wants and needs growth.

But you cannot create it. It is something that God does – sometimes through natural sources and sometimes through supernatural sources.

Jesus lived that life. We see his organic spontaneity all through the Gospels – everywhere he went he created growth, he brought LIFE! ABUNDANT LIFE!

But now let’s look at his life from an administrative point of view. First of all, talk about spontaneous – even the Twelve hadn’t a clue where he was at, or where he was going MOST OF THE TIME. And can you imagine Jesus behind a desk, in an office, being accountable to a board of directors? Ha ha.

Yeah, right.

I would hate to have been his secretary.

And really lets let Jesus off the hook a little – he was only doing what he saw his father doing. But to all the people in his life, he looked unaccountable, unorganized, really really off the grid.

Well people, this is how it is in the Spirit. This is the Spirit-filled life by definition. But it’s life, and every person, every organization and every church I have ever been a part of deeply wants that LIFE in their midst so that they can grow and multiply because, without that growth, there is no administration.

Now before we all storm the gates of Administrative Oversight and rip down the doors and throw every single organizational chart and every business plan out the window, hold your horses.

Here’s our problem… and it’s a good one.

Why is it good?

Because we have an entire New Testament that is very obviously contained in a series of administrative constructs – from the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4, and all through the Book of Acts – we have men filled with the spirit meeting together to bring some – watch out for this word all you Admin Haters… organization and structure to the organic spontaneous move of God’s Spirit.

Look at the committees of Elders in both Jerusalem and Antioch that meet with Paul and even send him out on his missionary journeys – they form rules and stipulations to keep the move of God from going to dangerous and ultimately deadly destinations.

You could say that Paul’s epistles themselves all reflect a tension that Paul lives in and all Christians live within – how to keep the ORGANIC SPONTANEITY flowing WITH (not instead of, or in spite of) but with ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT.

CHURCH STRUCTURE

Now aside from the fact that I personally am convinced that the WHORE OF REVELATION is CHURCH STRUCTURE (Thats for another day. Call me. Email me if you so desire) I also think we have to admit something…

We are commanded to live within a measure of it. We are commanded to build the local body of Believers with a measure of it. And if we are going to be a legal entity (Jesus was never officially guilty of illegal activities – he rendered unto Caesar, in that sense) we have to abide by some organizational structure.

SO here is what I have come to – church history (and maybe your own Christian history) is defined by a series of pendulum swings, over reactions, to what we experience. We have pain from a certain scenario, and we throw the “baby” of “organic spontaneity” out the window so we are not hurt by it again, and we embrace “administrative oversight” to the point of exaggeration and error.

Or maybe what you and I have experienced – we are hurt by administrative structure, so we abandon church structure altogether.

Understandable? Of course. I have been on 8 church staffs. I have seen interesting things to be sure. Anyone who doesn’t understand that this automatically means I am seriously a glutton for punishment… think again. Ha ha.

I love punishment and persecution from those who misuse the structural side of things. I must! he he he

Well, you know I have had to separate from church structures that became unbearable in their overuse of administrative structure.

The issue we face is we see amazing spontaneous growth, and we eventually come to see unavoidably that the only way to water and facilitate it is to create a little structure. You HAVE TO or it will get nutty and extreme to the point of no return within a half hour.

But now what do we do? Do we create structure to nurture and water and then put the leash on our structure? No, we let structure have it’s own way (huge mistake!) and before we know it, structure is Frankenstein’s monster wanting and having it’s own way and stepping out of ORIGINAL DESIGN.

And then, people start hurting people in the ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE gone amuck (and you all know, administrative structure is often comprised of human beings who, tempted as Frodo Baggins to POSSESS that RING “MY PRECIOUS” and suddenly human beings who loved that RING could not resist it and now they are using the structure for other reasons.)

If you think this wouldn’t happen to you, just wait.

To jump to a Star Wars analogy (only fitting in Dec 2015) – you can tell Yoda that it wouldn’t tempt you. And his response? “You will be. YOU! WILL! BE!”

 

Jesus told his disciples over and over that they must watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees – hypocrisy. Hypocrisy coupled with unbridled structure creates ABUSE!

And again, if you think you and I would never ever be part of such a thing, I hear Jesus saying softly, “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees!” I am sure one person thought this was impossible – Peter.

We don’t know what is really inside us until we are tempted likewise.

Okay, so now… after the healing, after the humility – we look at GROWTH and that is what we want. But then on the other side we see ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE staring us right in the face, and we are paralyzed. We don’t ever want to go there again.

But, we have to. The Bible says plenty about it. And Organic Spontaneity will not flourish unless it is put into a…

CRUCIFIED ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE.

“Did he just say, “Crucified Administrative Structure?”

“Oh boy, Jeff has really lost it!”

Yeah probably.

Hey we all have been hurt by structure somewhere, of some kind or another.

But lets not blame structure. That’s like telling the policeman who pulls you over for going 70 in a 40mph zone, “But officer, it’s, it’s this dumb car! It’s got a mind of it’s own I tell ya. I mean, I truly wanted to go 40 but this thing just wouldn’t do what I wanted so… 70. So, yeah…”

Right.

You and I hurt each other.

I won’t go into that now. I am basically done for today sorry about this long piece.

But let’s seek to one day balance these two tensions, and be willing maybe one day, to once again step into the midst and live this AMAZING CHRISTIAN LIFE TOGETHER in a CRUCIFIED ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE!

And let us do this understanding that both myself, and my structure, need daily crucifixion in order to daily experience the AMAZING ABUNDANT LIFE IN THE SPIRIT!

Love you all.

Jeff