A brief blog on a passing thought.

Lazlo Bock has written a very thought-provoking and insightful book about the dynamics of a company such as Google. There are internal dynamics that operate within that operation that could be very helpful to the church in assessing its fulfilling of its purpose and calling. One thing is obvious is that no individual becomes anonymous in Google. They have contact and evaluations regularly with all those engaged with the company. They seek specific ways to be encouraging to all of their employees. They have ways of discerning poor performance, etc.

What sparked my thought was that at the very outset, Google can be very selective in employing its thousands, and in so doing have found ways of measuring their potential by many criteria. … But the church has only one criteria, and that is that one comes into Christ’s church through the Door, and that Door is Jesus Christ himself–his person, his teachings, work of reconciling us to God by his blood,and so into his new humanity. Such requires that the church includes within it those ‘Thomases’, replete with doubts. It requires that it receive broken and dysfunctional human-beings who have come to Christ for healing and newness. It requires that it receive he halt, the lame, and the blind of this society—those dysfunctional and often difficult persons whom Jesus came to seek and to save/heal.

The church cannot make well-ordered lives, of successful persons, or gifted persons to be the requirement for acceptance. Status churches are an oxymoron. People come to Christ with remnants of doubt, with ethical lapses, people who are “nobodies,” who are ragamuffins, little people of no consequence, broken, weak, “weary and heavy laden,” … “sinners poor and wretched,” –contra the pedigreed, powerful, rich, prominent, etc. (Matthew’s gospel includes a sermon on the congregation [Matthew 18] which is instructive.)

But, one of Google’s contributions to us is that they at least have a well thought-out system of performance rating, which means that they have to have sensitive people who are in touch knowingly with all of their employees. Who, I wonder (in so many churches), knows the individuals well-enough to rate them, and to discern how well they are entering into and living out their new life in Christ in the daily realities and details?

Contra Google, the church is a community of grace. To be sure it is complex and often ambiguous, but God’s little children should never be anonymous, or lost in the crowd, or un-accountable to anybody. Somehow the command to command to submit ourselves to one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to confess one’s sins to one another … means that we have to be close enough to one another that the transparency, or lack thereof, of our Christian lives becomes accountable to some shepherding figure within the community of God’s people.

Such is both demanding and enormously rewarding.

The church is a community of grace. It is that community where God puts his people back together again. It is a community of true communication. And the people it has to work with are people such as you and me. Reconciliation, forgiveness, mutual caring and sharing, warmth, hospitality, sensitivity, listen-ability, and self-denying love are its hallmarks. We are not Google, or a Silicon Valley enterprise, … we are God’s New Humanity.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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