Thursday, June 17, 2004

community, corporations, church, and emerging church

jason clark refers us to some of mike mcnichols' comments precipitated by a July 2004 Fast Company article entitled "We, Incorporated". The article treats a new book by Douglas Smith called On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About an Age of Me.

Paraphrasing the article, McNichols notes,

" corporations have become the primary arena for defining purpose in the lives of many people, and that too many corporations define that purpose--and their ethics--through the primary "fundamentalism" of shareholder value. "

This is true for many corporations, but Porras and Collins pointed out in their wonderful book Built to Last that the finest corporations in the world don't make profit a primary focus but financially support themselves as a serendipity to their mission.

Irrespective of this quibble, Smith is surely correct that this is true in many companies. And still - apart from that - McNichols tellingly observes,

"This has gotten me to think a little more about church trends. In the "emerging" church environment there is often a call to decentralize, resist organization and loosely connect with others in highly intimate, relational environments. It seems to be non-organization, yet very "Me incorporated", in my view."

I think this is a real danger.

We can so vigorously break out of the box of modern structures that we end up merely broken apart. We can easily get to the point where we excel at contemplating mysteries and criticizing others but fall far short at accomplishing anything truly kingdom intentional. Surely there is a happy medium - a way forward toward intentionally missional communities that avoids the scylla of wooden, proceduralized institutionalization devoid of dynamism and the charybdis of a Western individualistic self-absorption that, in the final analysis, only nets us an impact on our individual selves!

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