Reprinted from a post dated 3/9/06
Highlight: "In other words, just attempting to come out from under 'hierarchical, unbiblical church structures' does not get to the root of the issue. It's growing out of our unhealthy dependencies so that, as whole people, we can contribute generously to our spiritual communities and world from a place of authentic fullness in Christ while developing vibrant 'one another' relationships."
We westerners tend to think of ourselves as independent people who are learning to live fully our God-given life and potential. But Kirshenbaum (Finding The True Meaning Of The Events In Our Lives) challenges this:
I think people today have trouble being who they really are because as social creatures we live in a hierarchical world in which we're highly dependent on others.
She suggests that the reason we become dependent on the hierarchical systems we live in is because of our need for approval and our need to keep relationships intact. She says that we tend to feel that in order to survive and "to get what we need we sometimes have to become less like the people we authentically are."
I have not read this book, I was only provided with some quotes from a friend (John Gray).
However, it is worth looking at the way that hierarchy in our culture has shaped the way we are and has caused us to become comfortable (dependent?) on similar structures within our churches. Perhaps the problem is not just hierarchy within churches but our own inability to find our authentic identity in Christ. The result is that out of our neediness we fall into a dependency on external authorities to tell us how to live and act in order to be "approved by" or "okay" with others. In other words, at some level we are comfortable with hierarchical structures because they meet our need for external affirmation and approval.
As long as we need our approval and identity to be affirmed by externals, we will likely create hierarchical type systems to be part of--even in simple/house church models. As long as we need our approval and identity to be affirmed by others, we will probably relate wrongly to spiritual authority including genuine, servant, spiritual authority.
The answer, therefore, is not simply to reject forms of church that are hierarchical. Nor is the answer to reject community all together.
Somehow, we are going to come to the place where whole people, fully alive in God, are able to join with one another in healthy interdependence. We know that a healthly marriage relationship comes from two healthy people who are not emotionally dependent on each but healthy enough to support, give, love, and care for the other. Perhaps that is exactly what is necessary for healthy spiritual community: a group of people who are emotionally, authentically whole who are able to fully commit themselves to love, care for, and support others.
In other words, just attempting to come out from under "hierarchical, unbiblical church structures" does not get to the root of the issue. It's growing out of our unhealthy dependencies so that, as whole people, we can contribute generously to our spiritual communities and world from a place of authentic fullness in Christ while developing vibrant "one another" relationships.