While perusing the economic blogs I read, I happened across this notion of the economy and proposed solutions. It had a metaphor that I think is helpful for those of us who are looking to change the church structure (to “hack” it):
Have you ever tried to undo a bunch of tangled wires or cords? If you don’t pull on the right wires in the right order, the mess becomes worse. If you pull too hard, the whole thing can break. But if your first pulls are good ones, the untangling becomes easier with each move.
That’s like our economy’s situation today. If we expect too much too quickly, we’ll make matters worse. But there is a way out of the mess, and it lies in our hands.
Be careful, and start pulling.
I think it is a helpful image for churches as well. While we may read the writings here at HX.net and exclaim “I want that to happen at my church NOW!” the truth is that changes take place slowly. We have to pick and choose which threads to start pulling to untangle church bureaucracy and lay the groundwork for a bottom-up mission model.
However, even if we pull out all the threads, we should never remove the church structure completely; the goal is not ecclesial anarchy. A commenter on the above conversation exclaimed:
I dislike the analogy. The goal in untangling a knot is to take a complex, highly coupled system, and separate it into individual linear components. But a healthy economy is a complex, highly coupled system, perhaps even moreso than than an unhealthy one. The knottiness of the economy may make prescribing solutions for helping a troubled one difficult or even intractable, but the knottiness itself is not the the problem.
Indeed, the involvement of people and bureaucracy is part and parcel to any effective church. The goal is not church anarchy; it is streamlining and ensuring the “knottiness” of the church structure is affirming and helpful. Knots are fine. Roadblocks are fine. Burdens are fine. But only so far as they encourage people to work together, not unite the people to work against the system.
So go and be a knotty church! (bad bad pun!)