Friday, January 19, 2007
Organic || Manufactured
I was in the pub having lunch today, when I over-heard a snatch of conversation from the next table:
“…And did [that] feel as if it were manufactured, as opposed to real?”
That’s all I caught; and I have no idea what they were discussing. But it made me think of the current buzz around church needing to be ‘organic,’ and the implied dichotomy, where:
Something that is manufactured = false, bad, inauthentic, artificial, a problem
Something that is organic = true, good, authentic, natural, a solution
Of course, the bizarre thing about the conversation I overheard was that the two women were sat on manufactured chairs at a manufactured table, in a building constructed of manufactured parts; and had got there in a (possibly in two) manufactured car(s).
Community – the social bonds forged by living together in stability over time – does not ‘just happen.’ Likewise, communitas – the social bonds forged by living together through an intense period of crisis; the kind of shared experience, often task-focused, that happens outside of community but plays an essential role in re-invigorating and ensuring the ongoing survival of community – does not ‘just happen.’
To some degree, church – being church, doing church – has to be manufactured. I understand the need for ‘organic’ language, as a (necessary) counter-balance to some of the structures (of thought, word, and deed) of inherited church that restrict growth (both qualitative and quantitative). I also understand that when a pendulum swings, it swings as far in the opposite direction…and that there are certain unquestioned assumptions, and snobbery, at play: are bands that formed at college in response to the singer’s ad on the students’ union notice-board inherently better than ‘manufactured’ bands formed in response to a record producer’s national search?
But there are ‘good’ manufacturing practices, and ‘bad’ manufacturing practices; ‘good’ manufactured products, and ‘bad’ manufactured products. And there are practices, and products, that can be improved on – especially in response to, or anticipation of, changing circumstances…and practices and products that can become superseded, or even detrimental, especially through failing to respond to or anticipate change…
missional church leadership , organic church