nakedpastor’s No-Policy Policy

Edited for space from nakedpastor’s blog on October 23rd:

“I refuse to concoct plans for people’s lives. I refuse to concoct a plan for the life of my church. I realize I’m going against the flow, like a salmon swimming up an impossible gush of watery onslaughts. But I just won’t do it. So fire me!

I used to do it. I used to pray and wait and then articulate the vision and set out a one, three and five year plan with great gusto and with leadership and congregational support and fanfare. But I have stopped because I believe it destroys, in a violently sinister way, the lives of people and the life of a community. It’s presumptuous and cruel and inhumane. I have been on the receiving end of this visionary kind of program and I will no longer have any part of it. I realize how tantalizing, how dizzyingly intoxicating visionary thinking and purpose-driven living can be. It tastes good, but it’s poison…

…One…woman visited me earlier today and says that she can smell someone’s plan for her life way down the road and avoids it like the plague because she sees it as soul-destroying. I think that is radically rebellious but radically healthy.  Another salmon.”

I used to be paid to be the person telling everyone in the local church what God’s plan was for their lives.  When you can talk the spiritual lingo, it doesn’t take much to heap burdensome loads on people’s backs.  Being a Pharisee is the easiest thing in the world.  If some one wasn’t participating, at least I could get them feeling really guilty about it.  Yep.  That was my “job.”

I am on the other end now, church-wise.  And I am pondering nakedpastor’s comment, “…it destroys, in a violently sinister way, the lives of people and the life of a community…” and thinking about what we lose when we try to fit a big bunch of talented, gifted, hurting and whole people into a one-year plan – let alone a 5-year program.  Don’t we miss out on something by not allowing the whole kit-and-caboodle to grow and interact, to become and add on to in an organic, natural way?  What if something extraordinary is about to happen, but we are so closely following the “plan” we miss it?

Structure and order are my life.  But I am wondering, in even my own ministry: how much is too much?  When is my soul destroyed by living in a plan God actually never had for me?

I hate being trendy in church, but I also fall prey to every Willow Creek-Saddleback-Catalyst-John Maxwell-Hillsong-Church marketing sucks-Relevant-We’re not like other churches (but we really are)-Church Planting 101-Purpose Driven-Mars Hill-Rob Bell-Try to be hip like Blue like Jazz river-of-thought.  And so do lots of churches and ministries.  

A friend of mine was recently invited to an exciting “all-new and improved” church plant.  She accidentally went to the wrong school where another church was meeting.  But the following week, when she got to the right school (right down the street) of the church she had actually been invited to, the signage was the same, the claims were the same, they sang the same songs and even the pastors and their wives (carefully selected as planter-types) looked kinda the same.  Why?  Because even church planting has been stripped down to a science, a checklist of what to do and when and how.

Are we destroying the people in our care?  Are we more of an organization than a living, breathing organism?  Are we missing the incredible potential of the church to be the multi-faceted, brilliantly dazzling glory of God on earth by all doing the same things, one church to the next, putting people into the same molds?

What if?…Jeanie (I love the Bride, love the church, but I am recovering from churchaholism)

4 thoughts on “nakedpastor’s No-Policy Policy

  1. Ok, so what is the balance? The team at church that I oversee has been drifting along without a plan for almost 3 years now and the people and the team have moved no where. No one has grown, no one has changed and believe me it is needed. So apparently some sort of goal is needed. How do we as leaders find the balance between ineffective drifting and smothering sterile planning? If everyone were wholeheartedly seeking God I don’t think it would be a problem, however I would say the majority is content to live the day to day, fooled by Satan into thinking that is all that there is. Praying about it…

  2. I totally hear your pain in that, Mandy. I have just done it so wrong for so many years that I am having to face some major upsets. I once saw you in your ministry role and your passion was undeniable. You lit up, fairly glowed, because you were right where God wants you. I was blown over by that! That doesn’t mean you should have to be in it alone, though. But I guess the question would be: what does God want from you in it? And who should join it because He created them to walk it and do it, too?

    I am mainly addressing a few people sitting in a room (church leaders – and I was one), and I am cautious here, because I doubt no one’s heart in wanting to do the right thing and make something happen (this is what I did for almost 30 years) makng the new plans (rules) for the whole church – but, at times, without ever seeing the beauty of what the people already possess without a program. It seems like (I am still testing this out) that it would be more life-giving for them to be equipped to find their place in the body, the things God called them to before time began according to Eph., and support them as they minister from the ABUNDANCE of their walks wih God. It seems the church would have a broader reach, a greater impact in the community!

    I was a committed follower of the Willow Creek/Bill Hybels volunteerism line of thought – measuring everything by participation. About a year ago, they publicly repented for measuring spiritual maturity by the levels of participation. There is an article you can read about it here:

    I just wonder if the team you have is made up of the right people? You clearly feel the call and are committed by your heart and a sense of life-joy springing from inside. What if the others are doing it because they should… because they see the need… because they are qualified… because they they need the recognition from it… because of anything other than BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN TO DO THIS?

    Right now, I am asking God to send you partners in ministry, even if it is just one or two, who will join you with the same heart and the same passion so you can all work together from the abundance of the love and joy God planted in you. And I bet the things we’d see would be amazing. Don’t let the dream die. Never. If it is in your heart-God likely put it there because He knew He could trust you with it.

    And by the way-that isn’t an indictment against the other team members. This is just to say maybe they aren’t quite where they need to be…So maybe for them, this ill-fitted plan for their lives causes a resistance, a rebelliousness, a pulling away?

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