Overcoming Control and the Cult of Harmony

By Paula Lawrence,2014-07-15 07:22
13 views 0
Overcoming Control and the Cult of Harmony

    Overcoming Control and the Cult of Harmony

The Body of Christ in Residence- concern for budget, sacred space,

    membership privileges, continuity. Success is measured by harmony.

    The Body of Christ in Motion concern for mission, adaptability, trust and success is measured by hope.

Most congregations are made up of three kinds of people.

     20% will be “Restless”

     20% will ”Controllers” – want church to be one unchanging place in

    their life

     60% “Inbetweens”

If you want to move from the “Residence” to Motion: then:

    1) Mentor the restless ones in the new vision for the church.

    2) Help them go deep in the core discipleship process.

    3) Listen to and read the community for all the microcultures in the

    community and through adult spiritual development enable people

    to have a heartburst for one of those microcultures.

    4) As mission multiplies and small groups develop, the church

    reorganizes itself to meet the mission needs.

    5) Everything mulit0tracks, the church becomes more and more a

    blessing for the community around it, and there is deep joy.

    Now it would be nice to think that we can effect all this change and that everyone will love it and all will be easy and simple. But along the road from ”Resident to Motion” comes many roadblocks that have to be overcome. The controllers will attempt many things to stop the chaotic effects of transformation.

    1) The first roadblock that Controllers will put up is the avoidance of adult

    spiritual growth, for such growth will lead to risky mission. Controllers

    will obsess on Sunday school, family worship services and youth

    groups. Better to sacrifice the children than go deeper in faith. There

    is nothing wrong with youth ministries, but not at the expense of adult

    faith formation. To avoid this roadblock change the content of

    methodology of spiritual growth for adults. Make such growth:

    ; Lifestyle oriented

    ; Holistic

    ; Mentored

    ; Small groups

    ; Technology and Talisman

    The goal is to get 20% of the congregation doing serious adult faith formation. The current national average is less than 7%.

    2) The second roadblock the Controllers will put up is around cultic harmony. Now this is not a concern about a common vision, behavior, or doctrine, but is around aesthetics-taste, appearance, and sensibility. It’s all about “me” about membership having privileges. I can’t emphasize enough that harmony is the chief addiction most of our congregations face. We will often do all sorts of crazy things to maintain harmony. In order to block change and maintain harmony, Controllers will engage in the following tactics.

    a. Fiefdom “You can’t do that, that’s my turf!”

    b. Denial “No one wants to do this!”

    c. Inflexibility “The by-laws don’t allow this.” “We never did

    that way before.”

    d. Dithering - “Let’s study the idea; let’s form a task force to

    look at the details.”

    e. Denigration personal attack on clergy and/or lay leadership.

    f. Hostage Taking threatening to leave the church and take a

    segment of the congregation with them.

    g. King Making “I will back you 100% , as long as I can be

    your best friend.”

     Often good leaders will cave into the “harmony addiction’ rather than

    rock the boat. The “restless” ones soon leave when this occurs. To

    combat the “harmony cult” the following strategies may be used.

    a. become clearer about DNA

    b. serious listening to the microcultures

    c. multiply options

    d. tell mission stories that remind us of why we are a church

    e. integrity in a deep spiritual life

    f. team solidarity

    g. urgent and outrageous vision

    3) The third area Controllers will attempt to block transformational ministry is through administrative tactics. These include:

    ; Delaying mission while a “strategic plan” is done by

    the Board

    ; Try to set up credentialing processes so new

    leadership can’t emerge

    ; Appeal to denominational polity, correct stances on

    “social issues” or dogma

    This can be counteracted by:

    ; Focusing on DNA and boundary thinking

    ; Strengthening teams

    ; Creating a visionary Board

    ; Focus on emerging signature missions

In this entire struggle over the Body of Christ in Residence vs. Body of Christ

    in Motion, churches can go in either direction. Below is the flow of each.

In Residence

    As decline occurs (as it has in many churches already) there is:


    Looking inward

     Gotta get a youth group!

     More management

     Membership recruitment

     Dysfunctional leadership

     Visit, Visit, Visit!!




In Motion

     Looking outward

     Adult faith formation

     Genetic code

     Spiritual leaders

     Indigenous worship

     Team multiplication

     Organizational change


Which do we want? We will lose people either way, but do we want harmony

    or hope?

The 4 Spheres of Congregational Life

     IV. Breather I. Control

    III. Growth II. Confusion

     Sphere One Control: “Deciders” control almost everything by a “top-down” style of

     management. Policies and traditions are the norm. Those not in control, often feel drained of

    energy. New ideas and innovation are frowned upon. To move out of sphere one will come at

    the wrath of the “Deciders.” The key question to ask is: “What am I passionately called by Jesus

    to do and am I willing to endure the conflict that will result from pursuing my calling?”

    Sphere Two Confusion and Uncertainty: A few begin to ask the question: “There must be more to church than this!” When such “Dreamers” emerge, they must be encouraged to move to

    a new sense of mission and life for the church. The “Deciders” at this point will become “Controllers” and will try to shut this down: If shutdown occurs, the church moves back to Sphere One. This will be the time of greatest stress and conflict in the congregation.

    Sphere Three Growth and Mission: Churches entering into Sphere Three will emphasize a “bottom-up” style, with helping people identify their gifts and multiplying mission. It will be uncomfortable for a while as people get used to a new way of being a church. The “Dreamers”

    need to be encouraged and “Controllers” will often leave the church. Synergy and growth are the watch-words here.

    Sphere Four A Breather: In this sphere, the congregation takes a momentary step back to regroup, to re-envision what is next, to reflect. A brief stop at Sphere Four on the way back to the innovation of Sphere Three is healthy. A long stay at Four really means going back to Sphere One. The most faithful congregations move between Three and Four.

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email