Your Choice: Freedom or Control

"Control" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


I had an interesting conversation the other day with Martin, in Quito, Ecuador, who is interested in creating authentic community without slipping into the usual problems churches experience.

In summary, trying to break the mold, they launched a radical new community that met in a bar on Tuesday nights.

But it’s now on pause. Why?

Because the community began taking on characteristics of other churches, and was gaining the reputation of being the cool church. Because of this, on top of other issues, they decided to put it on pause until they figured things out.

I commended them for having the courage to put it on pause, and for caring about authentic community. That’s rare.

I explained that this is exactly the problem with all institutions, especially the church. I suspect that churches begin with a sincere desire to be truthful, alive, relevant, free, and authentic. But, the gravitational pull is always towards deceit, death, boredom, control, and superficiality.

The innate direction of all institutions, including the church, is towards entropy and inertia. Things cool down, slow down, and break down. What this means is this: the easiest way to manage a group is by maintenance and control. This is the default position of many churches.

It takes energy to heat things up, move things, and keep things alive and growing. It requires constant effort to continually create space for the exercise of freedom. The community’s efforts to resist control must be unrelenting. It’s never-ending and chaotic work.

The Reformers were right when they said the church is reformed and always reforming.

Because it has to or it will die, and its people with it.

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