Control, Resilience and Church Institutions | Thoughts

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The post for June 9th is about resilience vs. control.

What is most needed for our larger Church today?

Institutions and institutional life if off-putting to most people in our world.  And yet there are real benefits to institutional life–in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) we reap the benefits of the Board of Pensions, or the Foundation, the General Assembly and our seminaries.  On the smaller scale, there are real benefits to a Presbytery or a congregation.   Long-term institutional gifts that are still paying dividends today.  

But as we all know, the more difficult side of institutions is that they can tend toward over-control that can at time stifle creativity or create distrust.  Or create an “insider” mentality, closed system way of being, etc.  

Everyone has one of those stories–I have a few of my own.  These things are killer.  And off-putting.  And usually do not help us expand or follow the Gospel IMHO.  

But what would it mean to create a resilient Church and to let go of the negative sides of control as much as possible?  

We still cannot predict the future.  

We cannot control it.  

Only God knows what that will be.  And at the end of the day only God is in control.

I think about the ministry of Jesus.  He took the role of a teacher and a role-model for the disciples.  He took the role of encourager, healer and advocate for beleaguered communities.  He did not try to control but rather pointed every time to God and not to himself.  He told the disciples many times to stay quiet about what they were seeing him do.  He led without attachment to ego – because he wanted to point to the love of God which is bigger than everything else.

I believe that our model of ministry in Jesus is primarily a model of resilience and not control.  What can you do in your ministry and life as a follower of Jesus to create resilient community that will thrive and multiply ministry whatever storms or sunny days might come?  

I think we need to let go of the negative sides of control that are doing more harm than good in our institutional life today.  Call them out, leave them behind, etc.   They are no good.  But that’s really hard work our anxious systems today.  We need each other for this hard work of letting go of negative control and building up capacity for resilience.  


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