Growth (units) or Growth (tissue)
I was recently talking with a friend, who is also a worship leader, about sound equipment, particularly in-ears (headphone/ear-piece monitors, instead of floor monitors). Because they are right in the ear I asked how he could hear the congregation worshipping. He said that they have to mike the congregation and run the sound through the monitor so he can hear them. They also run the sound of the congregation back through the main speakers (so the congregation can hear itself singing, a somewhat typical practice for large churches). He said that this helped “fill the room,” and by that he meant that it would feel as if more people singing than were really present, hopefully leading toward more people actually being there in the future (or at least that those being there won’t feel like its empty). (this is definitely an example of virtual worship, see below at the nov 3rd and 5th posts.)
This illustrates the difference between capitalistic growth of units and the organic growth of tissue. As I mentioned in my last post (tuesday nov 11), maybe pastors should think of themselves as mothers/mid-wives nurturing the “body,” an actual body that grows through the maturing of tissue in the balanced relations of each section of the body, not a corporate/economic body which grows by the production of units or the accumulation of “members”, especially “productive members.” The example above is an indication that we too often substitute organic “growth” for capitalistic “growth” while thinking that we are retaining biblical growth. We can tweak some technological effects, add some hype and get some growth (how many church plants grow from 10 to 300 in a year) through these means, but is that really growth? Isn’t rampant growth in a tissue cancerous? Where is the time for normal/healthy growth?
I’m currently reading “The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For?” by Slavoj Zizek, a postmodern Maxist (read atheistic political materialist) and I think it triggers some of the thoughts above.