American Idol?

Erik Cooper —  December 9, 2009 — 2 Comments

This question plagues me: do our churches better reflect Jesus’ perspective on His Kingdom, or our culture’s infrastructure of corporate America and organizational control?

I’m an organizational thinker by nature.  So before you assume I’m an anti-establishment, VW van-driving, dope-smoking peacenik, you should know I highly value an intentional approach to everything I do (heck, even Jesus had the crowd of 5,000 sit down in groups of 50 before He miraculously fed them with the 5 loaves and 2 fish).  Structure isn’t our enemy, but I do wonder if it’s become our idol.

Check out a few of the things Jesus said His Kingdom is like:

  1. A small seed that is planted and grows into a large tree (Mark 4:30-32)
  2. A hidden treasure that must be searched for and found (Matthew 13:44)
  3. Yeast that’s kneaded methodically into bread-dough (Luke 13:20)

Interestingly enough, He never referred to His Kingdom as any of the following:

  1. A Fortune 500 company (although Jesus was hardly unintentional with His actions)
  2. An educational institution (although Jesus definitely was a teacher)
  3. An NFL franchise (although Jesus is undoubtedly an Indianapolis Colts fan)

God values order and intentionality, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve built structure as a cheap substitute to the messy work of getting personally involved in other people’s lives. Organization centralizes power, makes it easier to point to what I “own” or can take credit for, gives us a system to push people into.  And the dirty little secret, makes it possible to collect the money (you were already thinking it, I might as well say it).

Or maybe it’s even simpler than that.  Maybe it’s just because that’s what we see around us, because that’s how “our world” works.  And it’s easier to respond with what we know, what our culture and history tells us, than to search out what God really desires.

I don’t know if I’m right.  Just something I’m wrestling with.  Have we missed the mark, or is this just a case of unnecessarily taking easy pot-shots at the American church?  What do you think?

2 responses to American Idol?

  1. A great question, Erik. I have to ask, tho, are Jesus’ perspective on His kingdom and the infrastructure of corporate America inherently in opposition to one another? Are they innately at odds? To your point, is it possible for infrastructure to actually enhance and strengthen the kingdom?

    Perhaps your unspoken concern about infrastructure and organizational controls centers on the temptation to serve them rather than their implementation to serve us. It is when we become bound to our organizational structures and processes that they – and we – are no longer principally serving the Kingdom.

    • I get you Chuck…and I’m not questioning if structure is the enemy or evil. I’m just questioning if it’s as effective as we like to think it is, or if it’s just our default (or worse a way for us to avoid the uncomfortable reality of relationships and broken people). It seems to me the Gospel spreads best “virally,” and that’s how Jesus seemed to work and talk about His Kingdom.

      He saw the Kingdom as a bottom up “process,” where we in the west seem to treat it as more of a top down “event.”

      Interesting conversation…

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