Molding People to Church or Church to People?

By | January 14, 2010

There is a large variety of people out there. People aren’t made in a cookie-cutter fashion and don’t fit neatly into clearly defined molds. People often don’t fit into a box (and most don’t like others trying to put them in one). People don’t like being restricted from being free. People don’t want to be judged based on a stereotype or without people knowing the situation they’re in. Now especially when you begin talking about larger groups of people, they aren’t all going to fit in the same box.

So if church is supposed to be about people—if it is supposed to be the people—then what is the best model for church? Is it to have a large, formal, rigid structure? Should we have positions and roles that we need filled, and then just try to find people to fit in them? (Compare this to your job; is your job made for you, or are you trying to fit into your job? Which way would you rather it be?) Should we program for the majority, doing what will please the most people? What about people with different tastes—different needs? What do with do with them? Do we either try to force them into the box or just let them fall away? It’s my experience that this is what our traditional church model does. “We have a ministry to run here, we have a service to run, we have programs to run…” Is it about the people, or does it sometimes sound and feel like there’s a machine to keep running—and that this is the top priority?

This is not the only way to do church. Church should focus on and be lead by Christ. This happens when his body is ministering to one another, loving one another, encouraging one another, and living life together in community. It’s not about having services and programs. Those things work better on a large scale. The more people a church has, the more volunteers it can recruit to run programs, the more talent it has to put on services, and the more money it will have for staff and equipment to do all these things. But if church is about community, there’s a very limited size at which community can take place. And when it’s not about keeping everything running, there’s enough flexibility to include everyone, whatever shape and size they are. So what is our “ends”, and which “means” better reaches that goal?

photo credit: BurgTender via photopin cc

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