Does Organizing Religion Defeat The Purpose?


Dan Kimball over at Vintage Faith is asking for people’s gut reaction to the phrase “organized religion”.

Dan is writing a book and one of his chapters is about organized religion and why he believes churches need to be organized in a healthy way.  Dan realizes that the phrase “organized religion” conjures up a lot of negative vibes and he wants to take that into account.  Go by and read some of the responses and add your own thoughts…but not before you take a moment to answer my question at the end of this post.

When I hear the phrase “organized religion” I think of things like: the church caring more about numbers than individuals, more about being entertained than following Christ, worship being centered around “the sermon” rather than around God, people who are sure they have it all figured out, people who are mostly concerned with developing and maintaining their organization rather than being mostly concerned about loving and caring for others, people who are against a lot of stuff, people who want justice for their organization and the people within it but aren’t that concerned with justice for those outside of their organization, big buildings, lots of programs….I could go on but you get the picture.

Of course I don’t think that organization itself is bad, but it does seem that we have a tendency to go awry when it comes to organizing the church/religion.  It seems almost impossible for us to stop ourselves from getting so caught up in “being a successful organization” that we can’t be good followers of Christ.

Maybe our critics are saying to us in their best Col. Jessup voice:  YOU CAN’T HANDLE ORGANIZATION!!!!!!!

So my question to you is this:  Does organizing religion defeat the purpose?

2 thoughts on “Does Organizing Religion Defeat The Purpose?

  1. Jarred

    I absolutely love organized religion. I mean, let’s face it, playing hymns like “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” on a harpsichord wouldn’t sound nearly as impressive.

    Okay, now that I got that lame pun out of my system, I’ll offer some serious thoughts. No, I don’t think that organizing religion necessarily defeats the purpose. I think what defeats the purpose is how people tend to look at organizing religion. There’s a lot of different ways to organize religion.

    There’s also a lot of different ways to organize my DVD collection. I can organize the DVD’s by the title, the studio who made the movie, the names of the main actors, the names of the directors, or the birthdays of the first child of each movie’s directory of photography. The point of organizing them is (presumably) to make finding a certain DVD easier. Organizing them by title would make it pretty easy to find a particular title. Organizing them by actor names would make it easier if I tended to decide what movie I wanted to watch based on who I wanted to see in the movie. Quite frankly, I don’t see any value in organizing them based on the birthdays of the DoP’s children. That just proves that just because you can organize stuff in a certain way doesn’t mean you should.

    So I think the bigger question is to decide what the purpose is in organizing religion? What is it supposed to accomplish? What is it supposed to make easier? And do the current methods of organization serve this purpose well? Or would other ways of organizing religion prove more effective?

    I think part of the problem right now is that religion is being organized for the sake of organizing it. That’s a lot like bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. And we all know how well that works.

    Oh, and if I can be silly again in closing, do you think Jesus heals lame puns? *ducks*

    1. gracerules Post author

      Jarred – LOL – thanks for the humor. As far as the serious part of your comment I think you may be on to something – perhaps we just haven’t landed on how religion should be organized yet – maybe we should do it the way Jesus did – small and simple.


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