Monday, July 28, 2014
Structure and Faith
Structure…healthy structure…helps organizations and churches maintain excellence. It’s designed to be an asset not a hindrance. I’m reminded of the structure Jethro shared with Moses. Gold. Joseph created great structure to carry out the work of God that would ultimately save Joseph’s family. And the Israelite nation. Invaluable.I agree with this and yet I strongly disagree. I have indeed seen the "structure" of church governance greatly slow the progress of a church. I agree. But absent structure I have seen churches engage in things that were more than wrong - they were evil. I disagree.
The problem is when we begin to rely on structure as the answer, more than the vision God has called us to attain. Ultimately we can begin to rely on man made structure more than we rely on the King of kings to guide us into the unknown. If we aren’t careful…wait let me leave the structure of this paragraph to better make a point…
If we aren’t careful we can depend more on the structure than on an utter dependence on God.
If you’ve been in church very long you know this is true. In some churches, if God were to call us to move in some new area, even if we were certain we had direction from God, it would take us months to get the idea beyond the committees of the church and to a church vote. We have often allowed systems and policies to navigate us more than relying on the Spirit of God. We can do it in budgeting, in planning, and in carrying out the traditions and work of the church.
So the answer to the problem Edmondson describes does not lie in the design of a church's "structure." There is no magic bullet here. The answer lies in the lives of the people working within the "structure." Mature Christians of wisdom, grace and commitment will know when to speed things up and when to slow things down. They'll know how to operate the mechanisms of church governance in a fashion appropriate to the circumstance.
Likewise, if someone is convinced the Holy Spirit has inspired them with an idea that will change everything, but for some reason the idea does not move forward rapidly, then it must mean that the others involved do not agree entirely that such is being lead by the Holy Spirit. If indeed we have wise and God-fearing leaders, then we must respect this difference of opinion and allow the system to work its magic. I have to believe that if God is speaking to one person, he is speaking to many. And if we work diligently to elect leaders that are mature Christians devoted to God and steeped in wisdom then we have to respect their judgement on matters - even if it is in disagreement with our own.
Maybe, just sometimes, the value of the idea is not in its execution, but in the patience we learn from its not being executed.
faith maturity polity