Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our "No more GMO church" series and is a continuation of Part 1.

Last time, we elaborated on the modern agriculture practices that produce GMO crops and some of the reasons why they're used or desired. Now it's time to discuss the unfortunate reality of such practices and begin to talk about the parallels with institutional "church".

The achilles heel of GMO agriculture are many...

Firstly, the plants grown from GMO processes are often sterile, or at the very least, cannot reproduce their exact kind of plant. They do contain seeds, but those seeds cannot give a farmer the basis to plant the next crop. To grow a marketable crop the farmers must go back to the seed company for more and pay a cost for doing so. 

Secondly, when the wind blows, the GMO crops spread their pollen - which contains the unnatural DNA. This "frankencrop" DNA intermingles with the natural organic seeds and often corrupts the DNA, sometimes irreversibly. Sometimes seed companies intentionally place genetic material in their crop - sometimes called "suicide genes" to help protect their patent and create farmer dependencies. A lifetime of careful seed selecting by generations of farmers can be wiped out with a good windstorm when planted too close to the GMO. 

Furthermore, these plants are patented at the very level of their DNA. Yes, patented. If the DNA of a patented GMO crop shows up in another farmer's organic seeds, they can be and are sued for patent infringement. Oftentimes, they must destroy their own organic varieties that were naturally grown but corrupted with GMO DNA. The courts of our great land actually enforce such actions folks - I'm not makings this up! The GMO camp is enemy number one of the organic, natural, sustainable food movement. And for good reason! 

You likely have heard of "Monsanto" - one of the largest corporate owners of seed patents and interesting to note - the company that brought the world Saccharin (and likely many cancers with it). Farmers all over have serious grievances against Monsanto. Many believe they're single-handedly ruining the world's food supply. 

Regardless of the believed evil of Monsanto - my intent here is not to write about Monsanto, but to draw a parallel - one that may offend many - especially those who are part of the institutional church system.

In our view, the institutional church system is to The Body of Christ what Monsanto is to the organic and natural foods of the world. The parallels are many... many of them you can no doubt see just re-reading this post up to this point. There are too many to list here, and you may even have your own (share them in the comments if you like). Here's some of what we see, hence why we don't want to be a part...

The Institution church system doesn't support or allow things to grow organically and naturally. It feels it must tweak and control the very DNA of the crops to grow better, faster, bigger. It's appetite for these things is endless. The copious systems have one goal - "more bigger faster better". Sure, these are always framed as being "for the Kingdom",  and  "outreach", but in our opinion, as with GMO produce, their fruit might appear attractive and flavorful, but tastes quite bland when you bite into it and is nothing close to fresh organic produce. I'm sure that just as Monsanto may want to legitimately solve the world's hunger, so the institutional system likely has equally good intentions. We're not questioning intentions - only the outcome.

The institutional church system creates a dependence on itself rather than Jesus.  Like a seed company demanding purchase of new seeds every season, so the institution often creates a crop that must come back to itself for the resources to produce the next crop. Oftentimes, this is just as profit-driven as it is with the seed companies and is an anti-pattern to multiplication and exponential growth. It's similar to a one-child policy. If all you ever do is produce a replacement to yourself, the world has not really received any benefit. It's break a break-even scenario.

Most institutions cannot and do not reproduce. Just as most GMO seeds are totally sterile or cannot reproduce their own kind, so the crop of the institutional church system cannot or does not reproduce. Statistics witness to this as the amount of those professing faith in Christ continues to decline. Often many in the institution lose their natural ability to reproduce after their kind - if they ever have it to begin with.

The facts testify to this - at least in this country. "Christians" aren't reproducing more Christ followers - not even their own children are choosing to follow Christ - at least 70% or more of them aren't! So tell us... if even the children of those in this system by and large choose not to follow the Christ presented them. That leads me to our next point...

The institution goes about things backwards. Many mistake dividing as reproduction. It's not. That's no different than a farmer sub-dividing their fields into smaller fields. You still only get the same yield (perhaps less), but now have additional labor and expenses to farm the same land that was present before. That's a silly idea. Many churches start with the idea of a huge field, then we'll divide when it's big enough. Have you ever seen a farmer take that approach, or do they add to their land holdings as they have need?

The crop produced by the institution is unappetizing and unsatisfying.  Just as your average grocery-store tomato looks like a tomato and appears very appetizing, when it comes to eating it, it's quite bland and underwhelming. It was developed in a lab not for it's taste, but for it's ability to withstand traveling thousands of miles from field to fork and for it's profitability - not it's ability to satisfy taste buds. Companies know that if that's all you can afford, you'll buy it anyway.

The institution appears likewise - creating crops that are underwhelming. Can it really be that Jesus is really so unappealing, underwhelming, and inadequate, or just too hard to follow? If we're reproducing Him, how could people not find what the institution offers to be irresistible? How did people respond to Jesus when he walked among us? Crowd were so suffocating to him he often needed to retreat. People are hardly beating down the walls of most "churches" on any given weekend.

Maybe... just maybe... what is being presented is NOT the Jesus whom drew all but the religiously self-righteous to him, but a Christ created in the image of the institution?

The good news of Jesus Christ should produce streams of LIVING water in lives. It should quench thirst. It should have explosive consequences on the community and the world. While the institutional system does do good, ask yourself - is it having the affect Jesus said the good news would have? GMO crops feed people - sure. Buy they're nowhere near as satisfied or nourished as they are with organic crops.

The crop of the institution isn't sustainable.  In our experience, the institution produces a crop that doesn't stay alive beyond a season and/or doesn't thrive without massive amounts of cajoling and manipulation. The West consumes the most resources of the "church" globally yet produces the least crop of Christ followers. In case that sounds angry or bitter - we deeply love the people in the institution and are anything but angry or bitter at them. We don't believe the problem is the people, but the system itself!

The institutional crop requires intervention - the constant re-sewing of the seed. It's heavily dependent on process and organization. This alone should bear testimony to it's lack of life. If twelve people turned the world upside down in a relatively short period of time, why can't over 90 million apparent followers of Christ not be the headline stories of the nightly news every day and night? Is Jesus wrong, or have we created a Monsanto-like monster of an institution and called it something it's not - The Church?

The institutional crops effect the organic natural nearby. Just as pollen from GMO seeds effect nearby organic produce, so the institutional crops effect the natural organic life of those believers in close proximity (one of our chief reasons for getting away). The natural, organic life of Christ in a believer gets shaped into what serves the institution - often reducing it's natural ability to reproduce and bear fruit. Believers start with zeal and passion and love and a thirst for righteousness and are tamed to the whim and will of what serves the institution.

I believe this excerpt from the movie "Walk the Line" sums up this idea well...

[after record producer Sam Phillips stops Cash's band a couple of verses into their audition]
Sam Phillips: You know exactly what I'm telling you. We've already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just... like... how... you... sing it.
Johnny Cash: Well you didn't let us bring it home. 
Sam Phillips: Bring... bring it home? All right, let's bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing *one* song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it? Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' *you* felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear...
Oftentimes we're made to sing a song that's not ours because we've been told that's what the world needs, when in reality, the song that people want to hear, and NEED to hear, is our unique song - a life that is transformed by Christ.

And so I ask... is the institution encouraging you to sing "about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it out" or is it encouraging you to sing the one song you were meant to sing?

Stay tuned for Part 3

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