Deconstructing the Christian Industrial Complex, Part 3 – Corrosive Power Dynamics

Posted: October 6, 2014 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
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“Key people emerge,” “an outside sponsor who funds things,” “elites who lead the agenda,” “money becomes a major issue,” “Only those individuals who have the required platform . . . connections with others in the directory are allowed to be designated as elite insiders, and – ‘for the greater good’ – there is now a gridlock against outside voices that critique,” “people are reduced to pleebs who find their vicarious identity in the celebrity leaders’ machine, and don’t realize they are but cogs to keep it going,” “a major temptation arises when money, prestige, and/or power creep in and dominate a movement,” “This is a form of spiritual abuse . . . ”
Once again, futurist guy has captured much of what occurred right before our eyes and yet we couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
Then he asks, “What drew them in? Desire to please God?” (Yes) “Access to celebrities?” (Yes, there was definitely a “celebrity” culture.) “Spiritual growth?” (Absolutely!) “Association with something that seems vibrant, alive, popular?” (Yes!) “Be on the cutting edge?” (Yes.) “A mix of motivations?” (Yes, absolutely.)
I believe that a toxic system exists in our former church, but it is masterfully engineered behind what, in that community, is known as “Dutch Fronts.” They are so intent on wearing a facade of unity and community, and being the beautiful church filled with beautiful people in a beautiful town that they must do everything they can to protect and defend the institution and its leaders. If a flaw is found and the facade crumbles, the humiliation would be unbearable and probably unsurvivable.


Part 3. Framework #2. Power dynamics that corrode populism into consumerism.

I found the process of subcultural emergence fascinating, and first taught on the subject in about 1996. In the late 1990s, I was applying subculture analysis directly to the emerging ministry movement. I even got to present a workshop on the subject at the 1998 Young Leaders Re-Evaluating Postmodernism conference – “Navigating the Futures of Street-Level Postmodernism.” Even then, I was cautionary about going overboard on subculture ministry. It would be far too easy to end up as “modernist ministers in postmodern drag,” turning the serious work of cultural contextualization into mere consumerist top 10 tip lists.

So, I was aware of how things could go off-kilter if we put populist/open-participation blinders on, and allowed only certain celebrity/closed-consumerist types provide the overriding perspective and hijack the trajectory. Sometimes it happens when people get complacent and also happens if mega-ministries…

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