I’ve been loving NakedPastor.com lately. Here’s the cartoon I got today. Click on the image to go to the full-size version on David Hayward’s site www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor:
The comments there are interesting. Today’s offering gave pause even to some of David’s regular followers, who are not your typical mainstream church advocates. How quickly we run to the defense of our long-standing institutions because… well… they’ve been standing there for so long. I guess we assume that counts for something.
“The Church” as we know it exists solely to provide a buffer between individuals and God. People join churches not to find God, but looking for a way to reap the benefits of association with God while avoiding the risks of direct confrontation.
Churches are formed by people motivated by the same interest that drives the formation of any other kind of human organization: power through large numbers. Power in numbers is the power of herds, a power that makes sense to the bestial side of our nature. It’s antithetical to Jesus’ core message, which advocated individual power through direct interaction with God, one-on-one.
The grain of wheat of an individual in direct relationship to God is the basis for Jesus’ “body” as a healthy, sustainable network of communities of interest. Jesus didn’t advocate power through sizable membership rosters, bulging asset portfolios, and resultant political clout. He didn’t say that the way to the Father was through an intervening body, governed by ecclesiasts, that connects us to himself and, via him, the Father. That’s way too many mediators. The New Testament only mentions one.
It’s no accident that the structure and dynamics of church governance are similar to the governance of any secular institution or corporation. With hierarchical (top-down) control that drives bottom-up resource contribution, church governance is structured the same, operates the same, and is fueled by the same power-hungriness, greed, and egotism as is any secular organization, corrupt or otherwise. I have yet to meet someone with first-hand knowledge of the inside machinations of church governance who denied this assessment, except those who actively covered up the reality and promoted it as something better.
Secular organizations make no bones about their primary priority: self-interest. Even charitable non-profits don’t deny that institutional survival trumps every other concern. Churches are different. They claim the name of God in vain, cover themselves with sheep’s clothing, and leverage the sincere desires of millions–promising them future reward for present fleecing–in order to create empires both large and minuscule. It’s an effective, well-tested business model. And make no mistake–it’s nothing personal, just business.
Wake up. It’s all around you and has been for a long, long time.