Kill it off?

There are churches that are dying. By their own measures they are no longer viable, and by New Testament measures they are no longer Biblical.

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So what’s the best thing to do? Kill them off … or give them an injection of sustaining attention?

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In business, whole companies and whole departments regularly get culled as part of the shaping and pruning of the company/industry/sector. It’s not unusual, and some people are naturals when it comes to making the difficult decision to close something down. In fact, it’s an essential skill of both leadership and management. Kevin Kelly, guru of the digital age, in his book Out of Control says this:

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“It is generally easier to kill an organisation than change it substantially. Organisations by design are not made to adapt … beyond a certain point. Beyond this point it’s much easier to kill them off and start a new one … than it is to change them”

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(check out Kevin Kelly on his blog, or his discussion on the future of the internet on TED)

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But the church is different.

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The church by design was made to grow – continually. What it’s designer had in mind was more of a family than an organisation, with the inherent growth of reproduction built into it’s design. Kelly’s analysis doesn’t apply to a family. The church was meant to be a family that adapts – continually.

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So how can individual churches be dying?

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Because we turn them from families into organisations made in our own image – and Kelly’s analysis does apply to organisations, “its generally easier to kill an organisation than the change it substantially”. 

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So sometimes we are faced with a choice. We may have to kill off the organisation to rediscover the family. If we don’t, in some places we will guarantee losing both.

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But really, who has the courage for that?

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