Essentially a community is designed and populated with robotic wives – perfect robotic wives, so their husbands can do what ever they want without the trappings of spousal accountability, commitment, humility, etc. It is: I create a world that appears to be like the real world, yet under the surface it is artificial . . . maybe sinister.
Remember that idolatry is really self-worship. That is, when one carves an idol, names the idol, places the idol and then decides (without the input of the idol, I might add) how the idol is to be worshipped – and yes, I’m talking about pseudo-pagan/animistic polity here – at the end of the day, who’s Creator; who’s Sovereign; who’s the real God? For the idolators, it’s themselves.
Let me lob another kernal into the popper before I get to the punch-line. It was C.S. Lewis in his The Four Loves, I think, that remarked in regards to love, that at the moment it becomes your god, it becomes your devil.
Now, with those two ideas in the hopper, let’s get back to the original. The church is messy and sometimes a mess. Why? What’s the problem? People.
Of course, they’re (we’re) the point also.
We are failing, high-maintenance, foolish, near-sighted, narrow-minded, crooked-deep-down sinners and, well, that usually brings about problems. I don’t know how many not-so-subtle jokes I have heard from seminary profs relating congregations to a flock, and the people to sheep – only to get to the point that sheep smell bad and well ministry is hard! . . at the same time ironically forgetting that they too are sheep – we all are. (Psalm 95:6-7)
Which brings up another point: this messy church is messy because of ALL the people. But, that just will not do . . . not in America. We have boot straps to pull on and we wrote words down that provided rights – life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that.
So if the bride is a buzz kill for any reason, let’s just make another one – a better one. “Churches” are just the same. Here’s how you do it:
1. Do your research. Learn what models others have used and copy the good parts, but give your version your own flare.
2. Do great marketing and get people sold on the idea of a perfect church – one with their desires at the center. Of course you don’t say it like that. You say things like, “A program for your every need” or “A place that is safe for the whole family” or ” A Church where you matter most.”
3. Spare no expense – because you have to spend money to make money . . . I mean disciples – wait, do you have to spend disciples to make disciples? . .
4. Don’t let anyone get in the way of the mission. If people are stuck on issues like doctrine, or conflict between each other, or suffering – hand them off to others, the pastors have to focus on the Church(opolis). Have them read a verse or something.
5. Make sure you stay sharp and collaborate. Go to conferences with speakers and themes that agree with everything that you are doing and re-affirm everything that you already believe. Beware of any groups that are challenging or have radical idea(l)s – they are trying to undermine the polity and dogma that you have worked so hard to perfect. Stick to what you know and with those who agree.
6. After you have succeeded at your task, you need to franchise. It helps here if you write a book showing how others can do what you do with your method and your product. It’s best if in the Introduction that you remind people that they can’t do what you did, but they are being called to do what they are supposed to be doing – which is what you did. And then get right to chapter 1: “What we did”
7. After your church is perfect and the leaders are sanitized and distant and the people don’t make too much of a fuss in the conference-like service that seeks to define; and the para-church organizations that go by the name, ” _____fill in the blank____ Program” are self-sustaining child companies – after all that, wrap it up tight in a clear cellophane wrapper and put it on the shelf until tomorrow, or until Christianity Today calls for an interview – whichever comes first.
Only be careful, when you wrap it up like that, it will suffocate the life out of it – but that only hurts living things.
We must remember that we are not multi-cultural, only multi-ethnic. Our universal culture is Christ. And since our national culture screams of opportunistic, self-gratifying, self-worship – we must remain all the more vigilant to follow Jesus . . .
. . . and nothing else. Especially not our own bellies. (1 John 2:15-17)