Friday, March 04, 2005

Perpetuating Dysfunction

I read in a recent Church of Christ publication that the state of Arkansas has 548 churches of Christ, most of them small.

The article made a call, one which included an exclamation mark, to retired preachers, elders, teachers...etc who are now spectators in large churches to go and help the small churches who have no teachers, elders, and preachers...etc.

Something about that hit me all wrong. Yes, God never called the church to be a gathering of spectators. Perish the thought. However, he did not intend for there to be some kind of clergy/laity divide either. Whether intentional or not, the author of the article promotes the perpetuation of the top-down, hierarchical, clergy/laity divided church to spread into small churches. In short, he advocates for the very things that create dysfunction. Not a good idea.

Furthermore, this article seems to suggest that small churches have no spectators. I do not believe it. If they need so many people to come in and do it for them, then they have spectators. To the small church who is struggling, sell your building and make yourself into a handful of house churches, or get some equipping and training, or whatever. The only reason a small church would need someone to come in and it for them is if they are committed to remaining comfy/cozy without effort on their own part. This is not the first century ideal we long for, is it?

Now, the author did emphasize that larger churches should offer their ministires to smaller churches. I completely agree. Larger churches should use their resources to equip smaller churches which have fewer resources.

However, smallness does not indicate weakness. Largeness does not indicate strength. All size means is size, not strength. What's more powerful, 1 church of 1000 or 10 churches of 100, or 100 churches of ten? Be careful how you answer. 100 churches of ten will not spend one dine on bricks, on staff, on a lot of things. A church of 10 can provide direct services to people in need - perhaps better than the larger.

Anyway, this article bent me out of shape because the assumptions were flawed and it seemed this author had an axe to grind against people he thought should get off their butts.


David U said...

My only response is a huge hearty AMEN! I read the same article, and basically had the same response. Something about it reminds me of euthanasia. I wonder how many of these "dying" churches have reached out to a similar fellowship nearby that is flourishing and alive to see if they could become a part of that fellowship? Heaven forbid we have any unity amongst believers.

Great post!

James said...

Amen to all you said, Chris. David, we're on the same wavelength today. Did the article mention the possibilities of mergers at all?